Accepted paper:

Buying up the semi-periphery: Spanish citizenship for sale in the era of sovereign debt


Max Holleran (University of Melbourne)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines citizenship for sale in Southern Europe, using interview data from Russian and Chinese citizenship investors who buy property in Spain in order to gain citizenship and welfare state benefits.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines how, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Spain has sought to forge new economic connections with Asia as relations with EU core countries sour. One means of solidifying this new geopolitical relationship is through a national program called 'golden visas' that offers EU visas linked to purchasing second homes. This strategy of incentivized investment through visas, and eventual citizenship, is becoming popular in Southern European countries with housing gluts, sovereign debt, austerity measures, and aging populations. It also threatens to undermine basic concepts of citizenship and fair migration practices. In this paper, drawing from interviews and ethnographic fieldwork with potential property purchasers from non-EU countries (predominantly Russia and China), I show that those seeking visas are not only motivated by political conditions in their home countries and investment opportunities, but they also are 'buying into' EU welfare states. Many home-purchasers see their new cities not as a chosen community but as a means to cheaply access welfare state services unavailable in their home countries and they make longsighted geopolitical predictions through the purchasing of homes and the visas that come with them.

panel P55
States beyond states