The impact of international migrations in the demographic characteristics of activity sectors in Spain: recent changes and geographical patterns

Fernando Gil Alonso, University of Barcelona, Human Geography Department
Andreu Domingo, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Demographic trends of southern EU countries in the last decade are characterised by a significant increase of the immigrant population, and Spain is probably the most paradigmatic case. In this country, the numbers of foreign people, who basically arrived for labour reasons, have grown in parallel to that of the Spanish workforce, and more specifically the female one. This recent evolution is explained by the existence of a segmented or dual labour market, with specific niches for both nationals and immigrants. The authors argue that this “immigratory boom” is complementary to the educational, labour and social promotion of the national workforce. In other words, the promotion of the autochthonous population creates a “vacuum cleaner effect” that attracts foreign workers who fill the vacant posts that national workers do not want or are no longer able to cover, including traditionally female tasks carried out within the family -like housework and caring for children and elderly people- in the context of a relatively weak welfare State. Both parallel processes (the arrival of large numbers of foreign workers to specific poorly-paid and precarious activity sectors, and the shift of the autochthonous workforce from those to other better paid and considered sectors) have had an impact on the age and sex characteristics of the different activity sectors. By using EPA survey (Spanish Active Population Survey), this paper intends to analyse the socio-demographic characteristics of both the national and the immigrant labour force in Spain between 2000 and 2007 in order to differentiate three categories of activity sectors: 1) those where national workers are “replaced” by immigrants ones; 2) those where there is a simultaneous increase of both autochthonous and foreign workers; and finally, 3) those “reserved” to the national workforce. These three categories are firstly defined at a national level and then analysed at a regional one in order to find territorial patterns.

  See paper

Presented in Session 79: Migrants and the Labour Market