February 25, 2020
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The Galician diaspora in Latin America was one of the most significant European emigration surges of the twentieth century. In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, Galicia was the poorest region in Spain, it had mainly a rural economy, and was badly connected to the rest of the country. With that framework, most of the Galician migrants went to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Cuba looking for better opportunities, which not only had positive effects in the places where they settled but also in their hometowns in Galicia.

Contributing empirical evidence to that statement is what Martín Fernández-Sánchez is doing with his paper 'Mass Emigration and Human Capital over a Century: Evidence from the Galician Diaspora,' which he presented yesterday February 24 at the Navarra Center for International Development as a job market candidate. Fernández-Sánchez, a Ph.D. candidate at the Paris School of Economics, found that even though emigration had an initial negative effect on education level in Galicia, in the long term it had a positive one. First, because migration opportunities motivated education, later because of collective remittances that Galician associations from Latin American countries sent with the specific purpose of building schools in determined towns and cities, and finally in the long run by the higher importance that people give to education in those municipalities.

For his research, Fernández-Sánchez constructed a database from 1860 until nowadays combining historical sources such as population censuses, embarkation lists, and information about migrant associations, plus contemporary administrative and survey information, and an empirical approach of instrumental variables.