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Tide Recedes in Spain's Urban Migration

'Rurbanismo,' as it's called, describes the reversal of historic migration patterns now engulfing Spain, as a generations-old trend of rural-to-city movement has been reversed.
September 16, 2012, 9am PDT | Andrew Gorden
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As nations modernize and economies expand, populations increasingly urbanize. Think of the fast-paced growth of American cities in the early 20th Century. For a contemporary version, think of China. Raphael Minder, of The New York Times, looks at Spain's surprising reversal of this trend: "The movement has steadily built, but it has been accelerated by Spain's economic crisis, breathing new life and entrepreneurship into some nearly abandoned areas. "

"But it is clear...that Spain's cities of more than 100,000 inhabitants have recently stopped growing while villages of fewer than 1,000 are no longer shrinking," finds Minder, citing statements by Carles Feixa of the University of Lleida. While jobs have been shed across the nation, cities remain too costly for many, and the loss of a job may be the incentive necessary to compel many Spaniards to return to their rural roots.

Yet, "[e]conomic necessity is certainly not the only reason Spaniards are moving to the country," says Minder. "Around Villanueva, for instance, a community of artists has sprouted, from graphic designers to musicians and sculptors. Some have restored farm buildings in which tobacco and peppers used to dry."

"Rurbanismo has brought other changes to Spanish village communities, including the creation of "time banks," in which hours of labor are exchanged for goods and services."

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Published on Wednesday, September 12, 2012 in The New York Times
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