Wednesday, May 09, 2018

When the Numbers Fail (but who cares anyway?)

Actually, yes, we do all look like this.

Are the European foreigners leaving... or staying? Are there more of us or less? Can you trust the official numbers handled by the Authorities as ‘Gospel’? Of course, no one knows the answers to any of these except for the last question. The National Institute of Statistics (the INE) provides an exhaustively detailed (and hopelessly wrong) number of foreign residents by adding up the information found on the town hall census (the padrón). Here is the information, by nationality, for January 2018. There are, for example, 240,934 Britons registered in Spain... and 673,017 Romanians.
A local foreign women’s group in Benitatxell is led by Margaret Hales. She tells the Levante newspaper that “I don't think the statistics fully reflect the truth. Foreign retirees are not returning to our countries. What happens is that many are reluctant to register”. She makes the point that many pensioners spend six months in Spain and the other six in their own country of origin, perhaps renting out their property while they are away. They and many others like to ‘keep under the radar’.
Then there’s Calpe. The latest data from the INE put the population at 20,804 inhabitants. In the last year, it has ‘grown’ (or perhaps ‘discovered’) another 1,213 residents. The town hall claims, however, that between 40,000 and 45,000 people live in the municipality for more than seven months a year...’.
All these numbers and these doubts mean little to the Ministry of the Interior, whose job it is to look out for the foreign residents who invest in this country – buying a house, a car and spending regular sums – generally sent from abroad – in the local shops and restaurants. Perhaps we need a little less talk of catching us on the (apparently illegal) Article 720 world-wide wealth declaration, and a little more in making our life easier – whether with a proper ID card or in resolving the issue of the British votes in May 2018’s municipal election.

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