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Spain's population in decline as emigrants outpace immigrants

Economic crisis turns people away

Spain is losing population, according to a new study by the National Statistics Institute (INE). Figures show the country has lost an estimated 27,771 residents so far this year, and that emigration now outstrips immigration.

This is the first time in recent history that Spain's population has dwindled. Gone are the days when nearly one million migrants came to this country annually, with the demographic decline a result of the economic crisis.

"The loss of population signifies a country's failure," said Antonio Izquierdo, a professor of sociology. Others think differently. Andreu Domingo, deputy director of the Center for Demographic Studies at Barcelona's Autónoma University, said that "losing population is not a problem. Many countries have to get used to it because of the low birth rates."

The downturn began in January, when the population was an estimated 46.152 million. In July, it was an estimated 46.125 million, with emigration outpacing immigration by 70,759 people.

"That is an impressive figure, although departures may be overestimated in some regions," said Domingo, noting that over the past decade Spain had been beating immigration records. "It was only behind the US in terms of total annual arrivals."