A Spanish Love Story of Family, Work and Emigration

BY Paul Solman  February 16, 2012 at 10:53 AM EST

Paul Solman, Jose Antonio Martinez and Ana Westley
From left to right: Paul Solman, Jose Antonio Martinez and Ana Westley in Spain, 2010. Image by the PBS NewsHour.

Thursday, an email from old friend Ana Westley, an American ex-pat journalist who has written for The New York Times, fell in love with Spanish journalist Jose Antonio Martinez Soler and Spain in the 1960s, and has lived there ever since.

Making Sense

In 2010, I visited Spain and stayed with Westley and Martinez. Their family formed the basis of a story on the Spanish housing crisis. We replayed a few moments of that story the other day in a discussion of “accordion families” and “boomerang kids.” Westley saw the story and sent this:

David, our youngest, age 24, has moved to Santa Fe, N.M. to seek his fortune. About half of his friends in Madrid have emigrated to England, Germany and Finland in search of work. There’s a real brain drain going on as almost 50 percent of people under 35 are unemployed. The ones that leave are the most educated – or the most adventurous and entrepreneurial.

Instead of filling overflowing third class train compartments with cardboard suitcases and greasy bags of sausages of the 1960′s, the new emigrants are leaving from gleaming new airports, with cheap Internet tickets, checked light weight titanium roll around suitcases, their carry-ons, lap tops, iPads, iPhones… Mom and dad sill wave tearful good-byes, but from the security check point of no return. Most never come back except for visits or vacations. You see them every time you go to the airport – the new generation of eager, young and highly educated emigrants and the parents they leave behind who wish them the best and probably sigh relief to see them finally leave the nest in their early 30′s.

The news story was very well done and reflected exactly what is going on all over the world.

Watch: ‘Accordion’ Families Expand for Boomerang Kids, ‘Parasite Singles’ to Move Home


This entry is cross-posted on the Making Sen$e page, where correspondent Paul Solman answers your economic and business questions