Flash figures released by the National Statistics Institute (INE) on Tuesday show that Spain’s population, which had been growing at a very fast pace since the late 1990s, shrank in 2013 for the second year in a row.
According to the report, total population stood at 46.7 million on January 1, 2014, down from the highest registered level of 47.2 million in 2011.
In 2011 and 2012 there were 15,229 and 190,020 fewer non-Spanish residents, respectively. But the greatest fall was recorded last year, with 545,980 fewer foreign nationals living in Spanish territory.
The INE figures did show, however, that the number of Spaniards increased by 141,361 individuals. These numbers reflect people who are on the municipal rolls (the padrón), but leave out individuals who never signed up.
The most populated regions continue to be Andalusia, Catalonia, Madrid and Valencia
“We have to keep in mind that these figures are provisional,” said Joaquín Recaño, a researcher at the Center for Demography Studies and a geography professor at Barcelona’s Autónoma University. “We don’t know the makeup of this drop, and will have to wait for the residential variations to be published before knowing which part of the drop can be explained by the migratory balance.”
As for the increase in the number of registered Spaniards, Recaño said it is likely linked to foreigners being nationalized after living in Spain for a certain amount of time.
The population growth recorded in recent years was mostly due to foreigners registering at their local council: 923,879 did so in 2000, while a decade later that figure had shot up to 5,747,734.
This growth, coupled with higher fertility rates among foreign-born women, had partly offset Spain’s tendency toward an ageing population due to high life expectancy and low birth rates.
In 2013, there were 313,446 fewer foreigners from the EU in Spain, and 232,534 fewer from non-EU countries.
Foreigners represented 10.7 percent of the total padrón records on January 1, 2014 (a little over five million individuals out of a total population of 46.7 million).
The most populated regions of Spain continue to be Andalusia, Catalonia, Madrid and Valencia, although the latter also recorded the greatest population drop both in absolute terms (-118,599) and relative terms (-2.3 percent).