One casualty of the skyrocketing costs of housing in Lima is migration from the provinces. For many years, there had been a steady flow from the outlying areas to Lima. A new study shows that the trend has reversed & other areas outside of the capitol are now more attractive to migrants looking for economic growth & opportunity.
Popular locations such as Lima, the United States and Spain have always been well-known destinations for Peruvians looking to progress economically when the situation at home wasn’t appealing.
However, a recent investigation recently knocked Lima off its pedestal.
The districts of Áncash, Arequipa, Cusco, Ica, Lambayeque, La Libertad, Loreto, Madre de Dios, Moquegua, Piura, San Martín, Tacna and Ucayali are now more attractive destinations to interior migrants over Lima, according to El Comercio.
The study, “Internal Migration of Peru” concluded recently that these 13 regions have become productive and developing markets that present themselves as more appealing than Lima.
Approximately 6 million people of the interior are migrants who are living in a department different to which they were born. This represents one fifth of the Peruvian population that has moved in search of better opportunities.
The regions that lost the most inhabitants include Cajamarca, Puno, Ayacucho, Huancavelica, Apurimac, and Huanuco. While, the regions of Lima and Callao, and Arequipa, Tacna, San Martin, Madre de Dios, La Libertad, Lambayeque, and Moquegua have large migrant populations.
The Fields Are Going Empty
The process of migration is not always a positive.
José Dávalos, head of the Mission of the OIM in Peru, told El Comercio, “these areas have experienced loss of productive capacity due to the abandonment of the fields and the aging of the population since the younger ones go in search of better opportunities for advancement.”
When options do not provide enough sustenance in Peru, immigrants search abroad and most look to Spain. For years the country has been widely known in Europe to be home to the most Peruvians of all countries in the region.
Fleeing Europe for the New World
In the last several years, however, we have seen migration from Spain to Peru as the economic crisis has deepened in Europe. For some skilled professionals, Peru can mean a better chance at using their degrees vs in their home country. For Peruvians in Spain, the stiff competition for scarce jobs (particularly lower skilled) has caused many to return home.
As recently as 2012, there were over 200,000 Peruvians living in Spain. At that time it was estimated that some 80,000 wanted to return to Peru due to the ongoing deep recession and high unemployment rate. And it’s not just Peruvians coming home…
From unpaid intern to head of media Angel Lopez, 26, is one of them. The Alicante native arrived in Lima, Peru, in March, 2012, and went from an unpaid internship at Spain’s former Canal 9 TV station to a job as the head of media for a large educational company in Peru two years later.
He’s now a regular fixture in televised debates, and frequently tours Peru as a keynote speaker on issues related to advertising and marketing. “I left Spain earlier than many people of my generation, but I was working in a…television station that everyone knew was closing, I had almost completed my studies, and I thought, if I stay, I’ll be lucky to be a paid intern or trainee at 30,” he said.
Angel Lopez works for National Radio of Peru in Lima. (Radio Nacional del Peru) Angel Lopez works for National Radio of Peru in Lima. (Radio Nacional del Peru) It took Lopez a few months to adapt to a different culture, but the common language helped and Lopez said his life has “turned around 360 degrees in terms of opportunities and professional growth.”
Both family and friends were initially leery of the move. Lopez said there was “widespread ignorance” in Spain of what Peru was really like several years ago, with plenty of Spaniards viewing the country as a simple place of “mountains, traditional costumes and tacky TV shows.” He believes that vision has changed dramatically as the number of Spaniards in the country increases. “If a few years ago we numbered in the hundreds, now there are thousands like me, and there are many Spanish companies bringing their business to Peru every day,” Lopez said.
In several Latin American cities, locals commonly joke that not since the colonial days have so many Spaniards turned up with one ticket, two bags and the dream of a better life.
Migration Has Reversed
For decades, many Latin Americans, including Peruvians, have migrated to Europe to search for job opportunities. With a record unemployment rate in Spain of 25.93% in the first quarter of 2014, thousands of Spaniards are now seeking work in South American countries, including Peru. The political stability and the economic growth in Peru in the last decades have also contributed to an increase in the level of immigration to Peru. Spanish companies are also increasing investments in the region. Peru’s economy has grown more than that of any other South American country during the last decade. In 2013, 75 Spaniards originally from Valencia applied for a working permit in Peru.
Direct Market Agriculture Key to the Future of Rural Migration
With the young people of today fleeing the farms & related poverty, the future lies in a more viable economic model for rural agriculture. Direct market buying allows the farmers to earn much needed cash, and can help alleviate the need for migration. Agricultural education is also vital to increasing productivity & thus profitability. With education, more of the youth can feasibly return to the farms & help to preserve the traditions of generations by improving yields sustainably while earning more than just a subsistence living.
Slowing Economy May Cause More Changes in Migration
Peru has seen a slowdown economically, particularly in the mining sector, due to falling metal prices. With the high cost of Lima housing, any further slowdown may also see the halt of the still ongoing construction boom. When that inevitably happens, there may be an even greater movement to the provinces, as the living costs are generally lower there overall, and some in the Capitol may choose to return to their former “home” areas.
Meanwhile, the demand for some professional services is beginning to decline. Those who came early from Spain found many welcome jobs, however the demand is beginning to wane as projects are cancelled & growth has slowed. Will they leave too?
©2015 Ben Gangloff
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