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In the late twentieth century, domestic and foreign migration accelerated dramatically. The urban population increased from 26 percent in 1950 to 62 percent in 2001, spurred in large part by migration stemming from the midcentury revolution and, later, neoliberal restructuring. Emigration was directed primarily to Argentina and, by the 1980s, mainly to the capital city Buenos Aires. The United States also received a growing immigrant influx in the 1970s and 1980s, especially from rural Cochabamba and urban Santa Cruz. Brazil, and São Paulo in particular, began to attract immigrants in the 1980s and 1990s. After the economic downturn in Bolivia and Argentina in the late 1990s, Spain became a new magnet for Bolivian workers. Nearly a quarter-million people born in Bolivia were resident in Spain by 2008—the majority of them women, holding more than one job, and with irregular legal status. By this time, migrants were sending over $1 billion home to Bolivia, making this one of the country’s most important sources of revenue. In 2005, remittances were worth 87 percent of the value of hydrocarbons and more than the combined value of all direct foreign investment. The following radio advertisement for a Cochabamba travel agency reflects the long-term phenomenon of working-class Bolivians traveling abroad in search of a better life and the ability to financially support family members facing trying economic conditions at home.

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