Emigrating from Chile: Unemployment rates force many to leave

El desempleo en el país está causando que muchísimos jóvenes piensen en emigrar de Chile, en busca de nuevos destinos como España. Foto: Marco López

The recent statistics released by the National Institute of Statistics (INE) once again show an increase in the unemployment rates in Chile, reaching 8.7%. The data revealed for the months of February to April raised the index by more than one percentage point in the last 12 months. This is a set of data that worries a large part of society and is leading many to consider emigrating from Chile, particularly women, as the unemployment rate among females is 9.5%, while for males it is 8.0%.

This new increase marks a series of evaluations in recent years, in which there has been an upward trend in the last six quarters, since the lows of February-April 2021. These data are particularly concerning in the Metropolitan region, where unemployment reached 9.7%, marking a 1.1 percentage point increase year-on-year.

Causes and Effects

Some economists point out that the increase in unemployment is directly related to the significant rise in the workforce by 2.3%, more than 1.3 percentage points above the number of employed individuals. This means that the number of unemployed in Chile now totals 853,902, while the workforce consists of 9.6 million people.

On the other hand, this figure is known at a time when the Chamber of Deputies approved an increase in the minimum wage, raising it to 500,000 pesos. This legally mandated increase, which includes all workers aged 18 to 65, also provides assistance packages for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and cooperatives to help them comply with the scheduled increases.

According to the latest figures and estimates, the informal employment rate in Chile stands at 27.4%, a highly concerning figure. Many economists point out that those who fail to find work in the formal job market often resort to precarious informal labor.

The Phenomenon of Emigration

The significant increase in Chileans leaving the country prompted measures such as the “Chile te llama” (Chile Calls You) plan, which aimed to repatriate many citizens back to the country. Although the plan seemed to have some success, the progress was limited, and the number of people actually leaving the country continued to rise, and the process of emigrating from Chile continued.

One of the clearest explanations is the lack of opportunities in the country, particularly in the Metropolitan region, where almost half of the national population is concentrated. These discouraging signals are one of the main reasons why more and more people are turning to services that assist in obtaining visas for countries such as Portugal, Greece, and Spain, some of the gems of Europe where economic conditions are more stable.

Emigrar de Chile: las tasas de desempleo obligan a muchos a irse

Unemployment in the country is causing many young people to consider emigrating from Chile in search of new destinations like Spain. Photo: Ricardo Teixeira

This phenomenon is not limited to those with purchasing power, as in addition to the possibility of obtaining a “Golden Visa” in countries like Spain, Greece, and Portugal, other mechanisms are also being put in place in these destination countries that favor those who are considering working in a country that offers more stability than their own.

The Iberian Peninsula as an Option to Emigrate from Chile

In the case of Spain, since the introduction of the “Ley de Nietos” (Grandchildren’s Law), formally known as the “Ley de Memoria Democrática” (Law of Democratic Memory), thousands of people in Latin America have sought to obtain Spanish citizenship. This measure, which aims to address the crimes of the Franco regime in Spain, is intended for people who can prove that their Spanish ancestors emigrated from the European country during the years of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship.

Since its introduction in July 2022, hundreds of thousands of people on our continent have seen it as an attractive option to leave perhaps less favorable circumstances in order to live in a country with a stable economy. Over time, other possibilities for obtaining Spanish citizenship have also emerged, given the success of the program.

The requirements, which are not very demanding, include being born outside of Spain, except for those born on or after January 1, 1988. Additionally, “grandchildren of Spanish women who were born in Spain and married non-Spanish citizens before the entry into force of the 1978 Constitution, and who renounced their Spanish citizenship for that reason” can also apply. Finally, the “children of those who obtained Spanish nationality by descent (through historical memory, regulated by Law 52/2017), who could not become Spanish citizens when the law entered into force because they were over 18 years old at that time” can also opt for this visa.

Moreover, interested individuals must have a way to prove their Spanish ancestry, in addition to other requirements that are quite easy to fulfill, especially if they contact us for an interview, as in addition to visa processing, we can help them find their ancestors.

In addition to being a reparatory measure, the Spanish government is confident that this measure will also attract a large workforce to join Spain. It is a somewhat unique moment in the history of Latin America, where it seems that the immigration of our European ancestors to this continent is being reversed, allowing many descendants of Europeans (like many people in Chile) to return to the “Old Continent.”

Other Options for Emigrating from Chile

Beautiful Portugal, also on the Iberian Peninsula, is one of the main destinations for many people worldwide, but especially for Latinos. Migrants to this country are mainly Brazilians, although there has recently been a significant increase in Spanish speakers residing there.

This is especially true considering that there are not only great economic and social benefits but also because of the success of services such as the Portuguese Golden Visa, which is beginning to close the possibility of obtaining it, and only those who complete the process in the coming months will be considered for entry.

On the other hand, Portugal is also trying to attract young entrepreneurs who are interested in working remotely in a country that welcomes them as compatriots. In particular, knowing that there is a mechanism known as the “Digital Nomad Visa” that allows those who have a salary of at least €3,040 and can demonstrate at least three months in that line of work.

The world of immigration is growing rapidly, and beyond the love one may have for their homeland, considering the future is one of the key factors that many are weighing when considering their options. Perhaps destiny is calling from a warmer place, where everything is easier, and stability is commonplace.

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