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Why do the Spanish hibernate for winter ?

By Mr Grumpy - Fri 4th Feb 2011

I want to propose a study to further my theory that most of the Spanish hibernate for the winter.

At the very least tens of millions of them must migrate to warmer climates for months on end.

I fully appreciate that the social make-up of many towns and villages throughout Spain, more so in coastal areas, have a large percentage of holidaymakers and transient seasonal workers, but the disparity between the highs of August and the lows of January are, quite frankly, ridiculous.

Even in my local Town (of about 2’000 residents) there are faces that you just don’t see between October and March, even though you know full well that they are still live here. So where do they all go?

You will still see expats of other nationalities out and about going for a walk, or on their bicycles, walking the dog, having a coffee here and there or a meal out – so why not the Spanish ?

One of my single friends even suggested that all the single ladies are herded off the streets at the end of September by some Town Hall official and kept under lock and key somewhere until Easter time. Even by Spanish standards I believe that would be deemed to be illegal, but I take his point.

Since the economic recession in a number of other European countries took hold a couple of years ago, the tourists have noticeably become fewer and fewer, and many expats who were reliant on a job or income from overseas have since moved back to wherever because of the favourable exchange rates in moving away from the Euro. There just doesn't seem to be as many expats moving to Spain to top up the 'leaky bucket'. It was recently reported that the Kingdom of Morroco was offering incentives to welcome back it's citizens for Spain - and thousands upon thousands were being repatriated every month - returning home in the hope of finding a better lifestyle.

Another thing to consider is that, along with the decline in tourists and resident expat numbers clearly having an effect on businesses, the collapse of the construction industry a couple of years back has also contibuted to already rising unemployment levels. Spaniards are moving whenever and wherever they can in order to find work. Only last week Chancellor Merkel of Germany announced a special scheme to welcome skilled job seekers from Spain into Germany's employment market - one that has so far been enthusiastically embraced.

So where now, once Spain's economy recovers - whenever that may be ? - A whole generation of skilled workers 'missing', maybe settled in another country and reluctant to return. In a nation where life expectancy is rising, but the birth rate is at best stagnating, will the few workers who are left behind paying taxes be expected to carry the burden of welfare for an ageing population on their shoulders ?

So unless tourists and (Tax paying) Expats return to Spain, I guess I'll be one of the few picking up the bill.

Comment on this Blog

Where do they go? They are all in Ikea. At least it seems that way, when you are looking for a parking space! In our village (inland, away from tourist areas), they won't go out when it's raining. Otherwise it's business as usual, people out doing their shopping, meeting for coffee, standing having a chat (usually in the middle of the street). But our village suffered badly from economic emigration in the 60s and 70s, when the population dropped from over 12,000 to just 5,000. People who left then are now coming back home to retire, so the population is stable, but there is nothing much here for kids leaving school. We need sustainable rural industries, not just tourism, and we need it fast.
Alcalaina - Wed, 9th Feb 2011

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