Economic crisis and political dependency stir brain drain in Catalonia

The International Federation of Catalan Entities (FIEC) quotes fresh data from the official statistic body of the Spanish government, according to which there has been a surge of Catalans moving abroad. If in 2009 and 2010 the sum was barely above seven thousand, only in the first quarter of 2011 amounts to 3.827. Presumably things are headed to the highest migratory wave of the last years. Who are the new migrants? It looks very much like a brain drain of young an educated people in search of opportunity.

There is not yet research, but it seems safe to assume the new migrants are mostly young and educated, for several reasons. First, the younger generations of Catalans have a higher level of education than their parents, if only because the lack of jobs acts as an incentive for further studying. Second, holiday travel and EU funded work and study stages abroad but inside the EU have made the “living abroad” experience more common. Third, the Spanish work market, and in Catalonia is not different, does not give much chance to the young: among them unemployment is massive and many of those who work are paid up to 1000 euro salaries.

Economic crisis is stirring a general predisposition to move abroad. In a latin country like Catalonia, this is a deep change. The same organisation FIEC quoted recently another study by a consulting firm, according to which a 90 per cent of the questioned would be ready to move abroad if the right work opportunity is provided. Meanwhile, political and economical elites in Catalonia seem to be unaware of this loss of human capital. Truth to be told, fiscal plundering from the Spanish government and budget cuts leave the Catalan government little room for active policies and at least try to stop the brain drain.

3 thoughts on “Economic crisis and political dependency stir brain drain in Catalonia

  1. I’m totally agree with this post, and I’m included in it. In less than two years I will finish my PhD in Catalonia and probably all the offers I will recieve will come from abroad. Here they will ask me, if it is not an MBA this thing called PhD? You would like to work as an internship after finishing? And this questions are trying to set your salary at the same level of most the employees that work in Catalonia that are not properly prepared but are happy with what they have, not to talk about some southern places in Spain… If we are more prepared, as everyone is calling us “brains”, the drain is something natural and necessary, if we stay here, the minimum thought is to be in a constant grievance with what is happening and with what we are allowing to happen.

  2. Thanks for your comment Albert. I personally have practically done my career so far away from Catalonia mainly because everywhere else in the world the opportunities are more appealing and they pay me enough more than moving is attractive. Plus I also appreciate the life experiences that can’t be quantified.

    There’s one problem though, coming back is difficult, generally there’s no positions for people with a certain profile in Catalonia.

    I hope with independence and once the burden that Spain is on our resources after some time this will improve.

  3. Albert, “brain drain” is a well established expression. The “brain” word is not derogatory, on the contrary, nothing against “brainy” people. The “drain” part is what is sad from the point of view of the country, because it is a loss.

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