British Migrants in Spain: the Extent and Nature of Social Integration, 2003-2005.

  • Karen O'Reilly (Creator)
  • John Bone (Data Manager)



This project arose out of research conducted during the 1990s (by O'Reilly and others) which explored the trends, motivations, mobility patterns, identity and way of life of British migrant communities in the Costa del Sol. Reviewing the data collected during that period of fieldwork raised key issues of interest for theories of globalisation, migration and tourism, and for social policy related to integration, which are becoming increasingly relevant in the current context. Spain's tourist towns have recently experienced huge population growth (especially at certain times of the year), increasing European immigration, and the presence of a fluid, multinational migrant population, especially since free movement of individuals was introduced by the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. The effects at the local level have been augmented by the passing of time and continued property development. Some towns are growing at dramatic rates and now inland areas are being affected as people look for cheaper property and land away from the built-up coastal zones. The constant presence of what are locally termed 'residential tourists' is becoming a feature of everyday life for people in towns like Fuengirola, Mijas and Alhaurin El Grande, in Andalusia. The growing and important body of research exploring the phenomenon of International Retirement Migration (IRM) in Europe has failed to specifically explore the extent and nature of social integration of these and younger European migrants in Spanish society.

The objectives of this study were to: systematically explore, using surveys, the extent of social integration of European (especially British) migrants in Spain; explore in depth, using qualitative interviews, the nature of social integration; and gain an understanding, using case studies, of the role of town councils in aiding or impeding integration.

The data collection includes:
- self-completion survey. Questionnaires were distributed via newsagents, town hall foreign residents departments, social clubs, and using snowball techniques from personal contacts
- 53 face to face in-depth interviews (individuals and couples)
- 6 focus group interviews
- 48 short student essays from 11-13 year old school students and transcribed into Word documents

Main Topics:
Main topics include: social and economic integration; political integration; reasons for migration; language difficulties; schooling; work situation; health and fitness; official registration.
Date made available19 Apr 2006
PublisherUK Data Service
Date of data production2003 - 2005
Geographical coverageSpain, Malaga Province

Funder and Grant Reference number

  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • R000 22 39 44

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