Latin American Migration to Spain: Main Reasons and Future Perspectives

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Abstract

Over the last two decades, Spain has evolved rapidly from a classic labour exporter to a labour importer. Until the 1930s Spain's migration history was predominantly marked by emigration to the Americas, and from the end of World War II until the early 1970s by emigration to some industrialized countries in Western Europe. For the first time in modern times, Spain is now the second country in the world with large-scale immigration. Its strategic location, a relatively permissive immigration policy and economic opportunities derived from Spain's entry into the European Community have positioned this country as a major destination for immigrants. Additionally, since the mid-1990s international migration in Spain has dramatically changed in origin composition. Despite the common perception of Africa as the most important source of immigration, some Latin American countries, in a very short time, have become some of the major sources of immigration to Spain; indeed, the term “Latin-Americanization” has been coined to describe this process. This being so, the aim of this article is twofold. First, we examine the main reasons behind the extremely rapid increase of Latin American migration to Spain during the last decade. Then we briefly discuss some future perspectives.

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