Experts point to the weakness of Córdoba’s economy as the key to the serious drop in population

The demographic alarms They jumped this Thursday, when it was learned that Cordova, according to the INE, was the Spanish province that lost the most population quantitatively in the last year – in the country as a whole, there was an increase. Thus, a long-standing trend was aggravated. ABC analyzes the causes of worsening with six relevant voices: Gabriel Pérez Alcalá, economist and former rector of Loyola University; Pedro Pablo Pérez, professor of Macroeconomics at Loyola; Fernando Lara, professor of Applied Economics at the UCO; Rafael Garzón, professor in the Human Geography area of ​​the UCO; Rafael Navas, general secretary of Asaja-Córdoba; and Lope Ruiz, mayor of Iznájar (one of the municipalities in the province that has suffered the most from the drop in the registry in the last decade).

Open fire Lara. Remember that for some time now in our land there has been a phenomenon of “population aging, lower birth rates and a flight of young people, who leave because they do not have employment opportunities.” That process, this expert follows, «show your face at some point» and it has now been with the figures for the last year: «The results of this processthat gets worsethey are made more visible».

In this loss of inhabitants, he reflects, more general social trends weigh – “Before, they had many children” – and economic variables with local singularities, which impact birth rates. There is “a late incorporation into the labor market, salaries are lower and difficulties in accessing housing and in our territory this happens with a lower wealth index.”

And it puts another factor on the table. By traditional weakness of its economy«No are attractive as a destination for the population immigrant, which has a higher birth rate. In fact, according to the latest data provided by the INE, Córdoba is the province in the country with the lowest percentage of foreigners. As of April 1, 2024, they accounted for 3.5% of all residents. In Spain, they represent 13.5%.

“Due to our economy, we do not attract the immigrant population, which has a higher birth rate”

Fernando Lara

UCO Professor

And the weight of the foreign population in it country advances faster than here. Ten years ago, they were 10.1% of citizens. That is, its presence grows by 3.4 points. In our land, the figure from a decade ago was 2.7%, which increases its weight by eight tenths.

If you jump to the Loyola University, Pérez will repeat elements of Lara’s analysis but articulated in a different way. Before, he puts one of the focuses on the fact that in Córdoba there is a population aged 60 and older that “will increase more because the ‘baby boom’ of the sixties is now seen” in the population structure. It is the group, he remembers, in which there is the greatest decrease in deaths.

«Córdoba cannot make those who should stay stay. They go. “We lose potential parents.”

Pedro Pablo Pérez

Professor at Loyola University

The statistics support his words. In the last year, in the province, the age group 85 to 89 years was the one who suffered biggest drop in members. It decreased by 4.6% compared to the average drop in the total population of 0.5%. And Córdoba shows higher levels of aging than the nation. As of April 1, 2024, its inhabitants over 65 years old represented 21.2%. In the country, the elderly cover 20.5% of residents.

Fewer “potential parents”

Other “clue” What matters is that the provincial economy “fails to that those who should stay stay. “They go to other provinces or abroad.” There, the data from the last year speak clearly: among the five-year groups that lost the most inhabitants here were those between 25 and 29 years old (-2.8%); from 30 to 34 (-2%), from 35 to 39 (-2.1%) and from 40 to 44 (-3.3%). In Spain, the indicators for each of these age groups were positive or with smaller falls than those suffered in these parts. This Loyola professor warns that those who leave are “potential parents”which influences birth rate.

«The departure of people between 25 and 35 years old is equivalent to losing population from zero to five years old»

Gabriel Perez Alcalá

Former Chancellor of Loyola University

These departures are not compensated, since “there is not enough replacement population coming, because our economic situation is not attractive” neither for the rest of the Spaniards nor for foreigners. He then provides the case of Malagawith the capital experiencing an effervescent moment in its economy, “yes is attracting population». In the last year, it increased it by 0.8%.

Without leaving this academic institution, who was its rector from 2011 to 2023, emphasizes that the loss of population in Córdoba has been occurring for years. “Yes, it is new,” he maintains, that “this drop in population is transferred to the age pyramid.” Because, to understand what is happening today, we must go back to the “crisis of large companies in Córdoba since 2009.” He caused Córdoba to suffer “a significant loss of medium and high-skilled employment that forced young people to emigrate.” That outflow of people «from 25 to 35 years old is equivalent to lose population from zero to five years. “These are the people who should be having children here now.”

«Córdoba is very unattractive to attract population and increasingly less attractive to retain it»

Rafael Garzon

UCO Professor

Another factor that weighs on the bad data that is getting worse is that «we do not recruit foreigners because of our high unemployment rate; because we do not have urban centers with a population size to attract them and our climate does not help either. And he remembers that immigrant population is the one that “has higher birth rate».

“If the countryside is not favored, it will be increasingly difficult to maintain the population in rural areas”

Rafael Navas

Sctro. general of Asaja-Córdoba

He INE allows you to see up to what point Pérez Alcalá hits the mark. According to the latest indicators, in the province, 96.3% of children – from zero to 14 years old – are Spanish and 3.7% are foreigners. In the nation, the distribution is 86.3% and 13.7%, respectively. In the last year, in Córdoba, the number of Spanish children under 15 years of age decreased by 2.8% and that of foreigners decreased by 0.8%. In the country, the fall of nationals was 2.6% but foreigners rose 2.6%.

Back to the UCO, Garzón consider that now «we are seeing the most serious consequences of a phenomenon that comes from behind. It points out that, on the one hand, our land “is not immune” to a general dynamic with “fewer and fewer children”, due to the model of society, due to the delay in forming families or the difficulties in accessing housing. . Added to this are factors linked to our province which, with a “structural weakness of its economy”, is “very unattractive to attract Spanish and foreign population, taking into account that the latter are more prone to birth rates, and increasingly less attractive to retain its inhabitants.

“If measures are not taken in a short time, there will be municipalities that will not be viable”

Lope Ruiz

Mayor of Iznájar

This professor of Human Geography points out that «there are no strategies in Córdoba of development at a subregional scale, which bring together municipalities». The only notable example of regional development, he points out, is Covap in Los Pedroches. He reiterates that there is a lack of socioeconomic revitalization projects in the province’s territories. And it also plays in favor of depopulation, Garzón points out, that there are “many municipalities and even regions with really difficult connectivity. In the middle of 2024, they are quite isolated.

The other analyzes come on the ground. One is provided by general secretary of Asaja-Córdoba. And the fact is that agricultural and livestock activity, with the industry that it generates around it, is important so that the registry in rural areas does not suffer even more.

Navas begins by indicating that the phenomenon of depopulation is “very complex.” He continues, many issues influence him, but what is evident is that “the people where they live have to live and, for that, they must have a profitable activity». For farms to have such profitability, he defends, they must be given “facilities.” That, he elaborates, is «the opposite of what happens with the last CAPby the EU and the central government.

A child plays in a playground in the municipality of Los Blázquez

alvaro carmona

He argues that there should be positive tax discrimination for “those who are in the towns.” Demand more actions from the Administrations to achieve the profitability of farms and to favor “generational change” in the countryside: “For example, young people must be given adequate aid and given fiscal incentives.” If agriculture and livestock are not favored, it will be, he warns, “increasingly difficult to maintain the population in rural areas.”

And the last interlocutor knows what it is to deal with depopulation every day. Because Lope Ruiz (PSOE) It’s since 2015 mayor of Iznájar, one of the municipalities in the province that has lost the most registered voters in the last decade: 19.5%. confess live this phenomenon “with great concern. “The fact that we have lost that population means that some of the services we provide could be jeopardized.”

He explains that his is a municipality “with many difficulties, with 19 villages, with a fairly large municipal area and in which, Every year, between 80 and 100 people die and 15 to 20 are born.». «It is more difficult to settle a population in small towns and Iznájar is a group of 20 small towns, not particularly well connected. We are very far from the capital. All this, together with a certain lack of entrepreneurial culture, has made us one of the municipalities that has lost the most population,” he explains.

He assures that since City Hall has been working for “many years” in this matter. He points out that they have made an effort to digitalize the municipality – in 97% of it, there is a connection, at least, to 50 megabytes, which is an “incentive to telework and for companies that want to set up” -, they are acting to improve communications and roads; They offer industrial land at an affordable price or give aid to entrepreneurship. But, he says, “it has not served to alleviate depopulation.” “Because we do not receive help from abroad,” he says, claiming actions by other Administrations.

Along these lines, he continues, “we have deplorable regional roads; he health center is in poor condition or one of our rural schools has been closed for three years due to a structural problem. As a general reflection, to combat this problem in Córdoba, he points out that “all the Administrations and municipalities affected must be involved.” It is about, he continued, analyzing mechanisms of action and “really believing that this is a problem. “If measures are not taken in a short time, there will be municipalities that will not be viable.”

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