Mediterranean Crossroads: Determinants of circular migration in Spain, 1955-1973

José Antonio García-Barrero, University of Barcelona

Repeated and circular migration play an important role in shaping historical and contemporary migrant flows. Understanding circular migration determinants is important for a growing number of researchers recognising the influence of migrant location choices as well as the temporariness of migration on social mobility. However, due to a lack of suitable data our understanding of circular migration remains little understood. In this paper, I study the determinants of circular migration in Spain during the rural exodus, 1955-1973. I use a unique and novel employer-employee micro-dataset of 10,761 observations of men and women working in the Balearic tourism industry in 1969. The Spanish tourism boom in the Balearics constitutes an intense process of migrant assimilation based on circular migration. This case study allows me to analyse the factors explaining circular migration in Spain and shed light on the migrant location choice during the Spanish rural exodus. Implementing linear regression analysis, my results show that the socio-economic structure of origin communities, skill requirements and migrant networks were key predictors of location choices. Migrants were more likely to migrate from rural towns where labour demand peaks were complementary to tourism season. These municipalities were also characterised by more accessible and distributed land ownership. By contrast, migrant networks were crucial in determining migrant location choices in areas where levels of attachment to source areas were lower. Moreover, my findings also suggest negative shocks in labour demand and higher illiteracy and poverty rates in origin were strong predictors. These factors played an important role in the heterogeneity of migrant location choices in the period. In these areas, higher investment and seasonal work opportunities in origin, and lower skill requirements and migrant networks in destination made migration to Spanish tourism areas more optimal location choice than European countries or Spanish industrial hubs.

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 Presented in Session 252. The Economy and Markets of Migration Flows