Tourism - at the centre of Mallorca's economic model. | Jonas Martiny


The population of the Balearics is projected to increase by 300,000 over the next fifteen years. However, there are trends that point to a loss of population in the long term. Natural population growth is one - a lower birth rate - while immigration may well decline. This is the view of sociologist David Abril, formerly a prominent member of Més and now a professor at the University of the Balearic Islands,

“Trends of people leaving the Balearic Islands can already be seen, but whether these continue will depend on lifestyle, housing and economic model. Until now, demographic growth has been produced by immigration, which is likely to decline."

Population statistics point in particular to a fall in the 15 to 29 age range. In the past, this group migrated to the Balearics for work. It is now becoming the case that the Balearics are not viewed as a place of opportunities, and so this age group is looking instead to parts of the mainland.

Related news

Abril adds that although the islands "open the door to temporary employment" in the summer, there is also a "dissuasive effect" because the cost of living is so high. This has meant, as was the case this summer, that there are difficulties in finding labour in the hospitality sector.

Another professor at the university, Pere A. Salvà (human geography), observes that Spanish government legislation which forced foreign residents to declare all their assets resulted in more of a floating population. "They began to register in other places." Meanwhile, climate change is expected to be a reason for leaving the islands - temperatures will be similar to those of countries such as Egypt.

But a downward trend in the overall population is certainly not being predicted in the immediate future; hence the prediction of 300,000 more people over 15 years. This brings with it the difficulties of finding housing.

Abril argues that current rates of growth are higher than the islands' carrying capacity. "Politicians should think about the collective welfare and change things, and this starts with modifying the economic model. Growth is not necessary to increase the quality of life, but nor should tourism stop. However, I believe that the Balearic Islands should aim for growth in a sustainable manner."