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Spanish Emigration Flow, by Rafael Cordoba

Visually breaking down the exodus of Spaniards in the last years

May 5, 2015

[This is a guest post by Rafael Cordoba*, about his infographic project “Spanish Emigration Flow”]


Spain has moved from receiving an unprecedented inflow of people to experience the opposite effect, suffering a vast outflow of people, to the point of reducing the country’s total population in a matter of approximately ten years. The main factors behind the harsh switch from emigration to immigration are in one place the rapid transformation of Spain into a prosperous democracy and the economic boom experienced from the mid 1990s until the severe impact of the recent economic crisis.

This curious migration phenomenon, and the fact that I am myself currently living abroad, arose in me the desire to explore the reasons behind the exodus that Spain has experienced during the last years. After analyzing the official data and taking my own conclusions I translated my interest into a larger project. This project, developed during Spring 2014 and supervised by Professor William Bevington at Parsons The New School for Design, concluded into a digital piece of data visualization.

(image: Rafael Cordoba)

This piece of data visualization aims to deconstruct and represent the emigration flow of Spain between the years of 2008 and 2013. The system that I created to visualize the total number of Spanish emigrations during this particular time-frame is reigned by four variables: time, quantity, destination and group of population. The system consist on a time line that is fragmented by year and measures the volume of people that moves from Spain to another country in the world. That way we can perceive which type of emigration and its volume at any specific time (between 2008-2013) based on a particular destination.

The people outflow is divided in two groups: nationals (Spanish born), represented in yellow, and internationals (non-Spanish born), represented in red. The destinations are organized upon geographical location and quantity of emigrations received, from high to low. All the data used for the info-graphic has been collected from the Spanish Statistical Institute (INE). The results obtained from the analysis of the data are very revealing.

The official numbers indicate that during the time-frame studied a total of 2,186.795 people left the country whom 1,924.714 (88,01%) were internationals and 262,081 (11,98%) were nationals (source4). The difference between this two groups is quite significant. The nationals that emigrate tend to choose the European Union as prefered destination with especial emphasis on northern European countries. The United Kingdom is topping the ranking list among the countries with highest number of national emigrations coming from Spain with a total of 30,779 followed by France with 24,770 emigrations. There is also a significant tendency among the nationals to emigrate to the United States (22,030) and Latin American countries.

On the other hand the international emigrations from Spain are quite more diverse and abundant. The two highest countries receiving international emigrations from Spain are Romania with a total of 277,011 emigrations and Morocco with 180,703 emigrations. It is important to mention that these two groups of population are both the majoritarian nationalities among the international residents living in Spain.Which tell us that most of this emigration are returning to their home country.

Other important destinations for international emigrants are Latin American countries like Ecuador or Bolivia. On the top ten list we can also find European countries like France, Germany or United Kingdom also chosen destinations by nationals. In smaller fluency, other countries in North Africa are present like Algeria (2,803) and Senegal (2,537) as well as some in Asia like China or Pakistan (3,933).

(image: Rafael Cordoba)
(image: Rafael Cordoba)
(image: Rafael Cordoba)
(image: Rafael Cordoba)
(image: Rafael Cordoba)


*Rafael Cordoba is a student at Parsons School of Design from Barcelona, Spain, currently living in New York and finishing his studies in design and visual communication this semester. You can see more of his work on Behance, and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Written by Tiago Veloso

Tiago Veloso is the founder and editor of Visualoop and Visualoop Brasil . He is Portuguese, currently based in Bonito, Brazil.