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Spaniards of all ages are leaving the country, but just how big is the exodus?

Por: | 22 de octubre de 2013


How many Spaniards have fled abroad since the start of the crisis? Many people may have a foggy idea that emigration has been outstripping immigration for a few years now, but the details are unclear.

Brain drain some say: these are the voyages of the lost generation, the educated jetsam of a exhausted economy washing up on Europe’s greener shores.

The United Kingdom, specifically London, is a preferred destination. Despite the precipitation, London has a loud and friendly Spanish community. But how big is it?

The exact quantity of young, or indeed older, Spaniards fleeing the crisis seems to be a pretty flexible bit of statistic indeed.

The figure depends, as they say, on the glass through which you view it, and the windows in the Spanish government seem somewhat rosier than their counterparts in the UK.

According to a recent study, La nueva emigración española (The new Spanish Emigration), by Amparo González-Ferrer, there has been some dextrous statistical gymnastics in play.

Start with the UK. Those with the checklists give a figure of 112,980 Spaniards living in the UK. Spain says 20,998. In Germany the figures are skewed too: 85,397 plays 17,074. Hmmmm.

So from whence the discrepancy?

González Ferrer says the Spanish government is looking at a narrow range of data. Rather than counting the number of Spanairds living in the UK, the Spanish authorities are counting only those who register at the embassy in London.

The problem is that for many registering is simply not a consideration. A visit to the embajada is not necessary to find a job or a place to live, and most people (perhaps 4/5) don’t bother.

All this leaves us fishing around for real figures as to the size of the worldwide Spanish diaspora, and González Ferrer’s report points us to 700,000 Spaniards since 2008, a conservative estimate by her count.

In the UK these data have Spain as the second biggest provider of immigrants, behind only Poland.

Anyone watching the heroic exploits of the English national team at Wembley last Tuesday will have heard the chanting of 25,000 Polish fans, making their voices heard in the country many of them call home.

As the crisis continues we’re sure to hear more Castellano in the streets and bars of London, Berlin and beyond.

Billy Ehrenberg is a freelance journalist who has written for several newspapers in England, including The Times and the Western Morning News. He tweets from @billyehrenberg. 

Hay 4 Comentarios

Its a pitty that this exodus is happening. I hope the people that leave will come back one day to this beautiful country.

Spaniard living in Finland for 3 years already. Never visited the Spanish embassy. Only once called asking for bureaucracy advice, but didn't get any usefull reply back. Spanish authorities only count people registered in the embassy, regardless the well-functioning Finnish registration system which has very accurate numbers.

Albert Rivera, líder de Ciutadans en Cataluña, lanza Movimiento Cívico a nivel nacional... ¿Habrá visto el joven dirigente una grieta en el sistema de partidos? Entra en Vergüenza de país:

The reality is that al least 1.000.000 spainards has left from Spain since this CRISIS, a new breed of Emigation because is imposible for them to live in Spain mainly becasuse the KING is only thinking in how to kill elephants in BOTSWANA. See why this GREEDY CRISIS pushed you out from your home, in this following links.

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Authors (Bloggers)

Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisjfinnigan

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Fiona Flores Watson is a freelance journalist, guide and translator who has lived in Seville since 2003, and has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She writes for the Guardian, Telegraph and Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Originally from Essex, Fiona is also Consulting Editor of and has her own blog, Scribbler in Seville. She has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2014 and tweets at @Seville_Writer

Jeff Brodsky is a freelance writer. He arrived in Barcelona in 2013 via an admittedly indirect route, living in Chicago, Arizona, Seville, Amsterdam, North Carolina and Madrid. Despite not having stepped foot in Seville for over five years, he still speaks Spanish with an Andalusian accent. Jeff’s writing has been published in newspapers and magazines in America and Europe.

Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance journalist and blogger enjoying a life of near-eternal sunshine in Alicante. She writes for publications in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, focusing on stories exploring smart and positive approaches to social issues. She hangs out on Twitter at @KorenHelbig and keeps a selection of her favourite stories at

Julie Pybus lives in a small off-grid house on a hillside in Catalunya. She usually focuses on helping charities and social enterprises with their publications and websites, but has also written for The Guardian, Country Living and The Observer. Julie launched and runs a hyperlocal website which endeavors to increase understanding between the different nationalities in her area @JuliePybus

Paul Louis Archer is a freelance photographer, multimedia storyteller and artist educator. A cross-disciplinary worker, who endeavors to encompass the mediums of photography, audio design and writing. Born in Hertfordshire of an English father and Spanish mother. Based in the United Kingdom. @PaulLouisArcher

Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only daily English language paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne and based in Barcelona, Alx Phillips writes about contemporary art, dance and theatre in a way that human beings can understand. For more previews, reviews, interviews and extras, check:

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