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Far more than 8,000 young Spaniards have emigrated, Minister Bañez

I am obviously not a statisticien and I imagine that several errors will be found in this post. If you find them, please feel free to comment on them. What if I do know is that I can understand the infer information from the figures available much better than the Labour Minister Fatima Bañez, who declared at the PP Summer School in Gandia (which is incidentally the city where my Alma Mater is located and whose media outlets have shown tremendous interest in Spanish Exile) that in 2012 only 8,000 young people have fled the country. One would have to clarify what Ms. Báñez considers a young person: Anyone under 25? 30? 40? Incidentally, her declaration even contradicts the information from the Natonal Statistics Institute, which, as far as I can tell, manipulates and hides data in order to minimize the full scope of the problem.

The following information must be added to what Bañez said on 5 September 2013: The National Statistics Institute says only 14,000 young people have left Spain so far this year. According to the same agency, 234,000 Spaniards have packed their bags since 2008. Moreover, CCOO has affirmed that there is a covert mass emigration and prestigious online media such as El Confidencial deduces from the data provided by the NIE that two million people have fled from Spain . I have taken the bother to consult the NIE data available access (the number of new registrations in Spanish consulates), and it clearly shows that the number of new registrations has increased by more than 450,000 since 2008. Given these figures, two things have become clear: No one knows the true extent of the problem of the current Spanish exile and the National Institute of Statistics, a government agency, manipulates the informormation that they publish in their press releases.

airport sunset

Let’s start with the INE. In my eyes it is a gross contradiction to say that 234,000 Spaniards have packed their bags since 2008 (a conclusion that cannot be reached with the data available to the public and that has been reported by press release), when the census of Spaniards registered in the consulates is different. On January 1, 2008 there were 1,201,433 Spaniards registered in Spanish embassies and consulates around the world. As of July 1, 2013, that figure is 1,658,951. In other words, there are currently 457,518 more Spaniards registered in consulates and embassies around the world than before the recession began. This figures almost doubles the official figures released by the NIS In my understanding, this new figure was reached through the following mathematical operation:

Spaniards registered in 2008 (1,201,433) + New Spaniards registered Spaniards – Regisered Spaniards who have deceased – Spaniards who have returned to Spain – Spaniards who continue to live abroad but have re-registered in their local padrón in Spain = Total number of Spaniards registered in 2013 (1,658. 951).

I think we can safely assume that in this five-year period, at least some Spaniards have died, returned to Spain or taken themselves off of the consulate registration. This is important to point out because this would meant that the number of new registrations exceeds 457,518. The figure may be 460,000 or may be 1 million, but with the data that the NIS publishes it is impossible to know. Another fact must be taken into consideration: due to the cuts, all the Spaniards registered in consultates abroad have lost their Spanish healthcare benefits. Many people have signed off the consular registers and have singned back on to the padron in hteir hometowns in Spain to recuperate these benefits. Without going any further, I have done it myself. Incidentally, the number if new consular registrations in 2012 is 93,343 people. Are we really expected to believe that only 8,000 of these are young people, as the Virgen del Rocio’s favorite Minister says?

Now we have to deal with another problem: there is no record of the many Spanish emigrants, perhaps the majority, that are not on any official records anywhere. In my own experience in the city of Los Angeles, 3 out of 5 Spaniards there are not registered at the consulate. This is obviously not a scientific study, but can serve as an approximation. In theory, Spaniards residing in a foreign country should register at a consulate or embassy there, but there is no real incentive to do so. In fact, there are so many reasons not to, from the ridiculous opening hours (8 am -12pm in Los Angeles, for example) to the aforementioned loss of benefits. The only advantage to registering is the right to cast a vote at the consulate for Spanish national elections. Moreover, the immense majority Spanish emigrées in European Union member states, with its lack of frontiers and passport checks, rarely bother to register.

It is clear then that the census of absent resident may not be an accurate way to measure the magnitude of the problem. So what is? I think the only way would be to cross-reference data from the airlines to see how many Spaniards have bought one-way tickets out of Spain. The problem is they would need the consent of the hundreds of airlines operating in Spain that are supposedly obliged to protect customer confidentiality. In any event, if anyone can accomplish that, it would be the Spanish Government if it considered it to be an issue of utmost importance. The other way of establishing more accurate figures is through studies carried out by Non Government Organizations, although their access to information is more limited. These studies are based on extrapolations from voluntary surveys of Spaniards living abroad. In my opinion this methodology would not provide conclusive results. The Spanish should be the one to carry out an unbiased study, not to hang medals or play down the issue, but to accurately assess the impact of the phenomenon. If they are unable to find the way of doing this, they should ask the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for help. They could probably provide the information in less than a week.


Rubén Hornillo

Rubén Hornillo

Director y Productor at Españoles en el Exilio
Productor y director del Españoles en el Exilio, ha producido recientemente Esclavo de Dios, un thriller político sobre el atentado a la AMIA en Buenos Aires en 1994, el cual ya se ha estrenado con polémica en Venezuela, Uruguay y Argentina. Por otra parte, produjo el cortometraje Goldenstate, centrado en las consecuencias de los deshucios en EE.UU. que se proyectó en la última edición de Cannes. Como español joven que lleva viviendo en el extranjero desde 2009, Rubén cree que es necesario contar la historia de su generación, aquella que ha cumplido con su parte del contrato propuesto por la sociedad (estudiar, hablar idiomas, formarse en el extranjero) y ha sido defraudada por la otra parte al no tener la oportunidad de obtener lo prometido: un trabajo digno. Rubén Hornillo
Rubén Hornillo
Rubén Hornillo
Rubén Hornillo

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