The covid-19 pandemic was a truce from rural depopulation

Research led by the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and the Center for Demographic Studies (CED-CLOSING) analyzed residence changes from the Residential Change Statistics (EVR) among the 8,131 Spanish municipalities. The study, published in the informative journal Demographic Outlookreveals changes in patterns of internal migrations during 2020, compared to the average for the period 2016-2019.

This work confirms that the movements cities They decreased by 15.4% and their departures to other Spanish municipalities increased by 6%, with a greater increase in internal emigration from the most populous cities: 21% in Madrid and 13.1% in Barcelona.

Travel to cities decreased by 15.4% and departures from cities to other Spanish municipalities increased by 6%

In the rural areas, the dynamics were reversed. Outflows decreased by 12.6% and inflows increased by 20.5%, with a positive migratory balance of almost 88,347 people in 2020, compared to an average loss of 8,034 in the 2016-2019 period. On the other hand, in peri-urban spaces and small towns without urban areas, there were no major differences.

The attractiveness of rural areas is increasing

THE municipalities with less than 10,000 inhabitants were the destinations to which flows from the main cities increased the most in 2020, especially those located between 40 and 160 kilometers from major cities. Internal emigration from Madrid thus increased by 21%, and that from Barcelona, ​​13.1%.

Most rural municipalities recorded population gains due to internal migration in 2020, due, on the one hand, to the decrease in emigration and, on the other hand, the increase immigration of cities.

The rural areas connected to the big cities by the presence of second homes or family and social ties were the territories with the greatest population gains: the municipalities of the Central System linked to the city of Madrid (the north of the province of Madrid, the west of Guadalajara, the east of Toledo and the southern strip of Ávila, Segovia and Soria); the Catalan Pyrenees, the Costa Brava and the Costa Dorada, linked to the city of barcelona; Aragonese Pyrenees, with a strong connection to the city of Zaragoza; and northeast of the Cantabrian Mountains, north of Burgos, linked to the Basque country. Finally, the cities in the southeast of the Iberian System and some coastal cities in the Valencian Community stand out.

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Far from being an urban exodus

the irruption of pandemic had a notable impact on internal migration during 2020 and provided a pause in rural depopulation processes. However, the variations observed are far from representing a change in the Spanish migratory model or a reversal of rural depopulation processes.

The majority of commuting they occurred between and within cities, just as they did before the pandemic. In addition, “it is likely that the changes observed were circumstantial, since monthly data show that departures from rural areas and arrivals in cities recovered their pre-pandemic values ​​as soon as the home confinement ended”, he explains. Miguel Gonzalez-Leonardoresearcher at UAB and CED.

The study also observes a convergence with the numbers from 2016-2019 in the case of emigration from cities to the countryside in December 2020.

“The higher incidence of the pandemic in densely populated areas, mobility restrictions, the desire to improve housing conditions and the expansion of teleworking may have temporarily modified the residential behavior of the population during the first months of the pandemic, but probably not in the long term. deadline. term,” conclude the study authors.

Rights: Creative Commons.

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