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Censos 2011. Spain counts. It is important to know ourselves
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Start / Previous censuses / Censuses in the 20th and 21st Centuries

Detailed results: Census 2001 / Census 1991 / Census1981 / Censuses 1857 - 1970

In 2001 the registered Spanish population amounted to 40,847,371 inhabitants, which is more than double the Census figure recorded for 1900 (18,830,649 inhabitants). However, the interannual growth has not been uniform, given that although sometimes the annual rate exceeded 10 per thousand (1960-1981), at others it hardly exceeded 3 (1981-1991).

During the whole of the 20th century, the percentage of males remained at around 48.5 per cent, and only dropped under 48 per cent in the 1940 Census, due to the consequences of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). In the 21st century the percentage is in excess of 49 percent.

The evolution of the Spanish population included in the census reflects the historical events that have affected the country and altered the natural development of demographic phenomena. A detailed analysis of the generations reveals the traces of the 1918 flu epidemic, the African war (1921-1927) and the Spanish Civil War which, apart from the excess mortality and reduction of births typical of all military confrontations, entailed an exodus of 300,000 persons, and also the last mass emigration of Spaniards (1959-1975) which affected over one million persons and the arrival of the foreign population, which has increased almost five-fold during the 1991-2001 period, being on average a much younger population than the Spanish population is having a rejuvenating effect on the population.

The structure by age and sex that appears in the successive age pyramids also presents the evolution of the behaviour of the demographic component of the Spanish population. Indeed, the age pyramids for the beginning of the century show a traditional demographic model, characterised by high birth rates (although already presenting a limitation of fertility) and mortality rates.

Conversely, the last censuses reveal a radically different model, with low birth and mortality rates. It is important to note the speed at which the birth rate has decreased since 1975, to the point of having transformed the pyramid that traditionally represented the population, which is pear-shaped at present. The immediate consequence of this change of the behaviour is the aging of the contemporary population, due both to the loss of relative weight of the population aged under 15 years old, and the gain by the proportion aged over 65 years old, which in 2001 accounted for 17% of the population.

An aspect to bear in mind when studying population pyramids is the reiterative effect of the phenomena that affect them. Consequently, generations that are reduced for any given reason (for example, the lower birth rate usually caused by war) will produce smaller generations when reaching the reproductive age.

Apart from their interest when analysing issues related to the population and its evolution, census figures are also relevant as the reference framework used to assess the rest of the magnitudes, as they are employed to calculate rates, coefficients and indicators.

In any case, the information provided by the censuses goes beyond the mere quantitative aspect of the global volume of population. Its greater possibilities are derived from the different variables they collect, providing information and facilitating the creation of demographic, economic and social policies, as well as controlling their execution.

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