The spatial distribution of population in Spain: An anomaly in european perspective

  1. Eduardo Gutiérrez
  2. Enrique Moral-Benito
  3. Roberto Ramos
  4. Daniel Oto-Peralías
Documentos de trabajo - Banco de España

ISSN: 0213-2710

Year of publication: 2020

Issue: 28

Pages: 3-38

Type: Working paper

More publications in: Documentos de trabajo - Banco de España


We exploit the GEOSTAT 2011 population grid with a very high 1-km2 resolution to document that Spain presents the lowest density of settlements among European countries. We uncover that this anomaly cannot be accounted for by adverse geographic and climatic conditions. Using techniques from spatial econometrics, we identify the clusters that exhibit the lowest densities within Spain after controlling for geo-climatic factors: these areas mainly belong to Teruel, Zaragoza, Ciudad Real, Albacete, Sevilla and Asturias. We also explore the attributes that characterize the municipalities located in these low-density areas: larger population losses during the 1950-1991 rural exodus, higher shares of local-born inhabitants, longer distances to the province capital, higher shares of population employed in agriculture, and larger increases in regionalist vote after the Great Recession.