Portuguese American Journal

Report: Portuguese lost 20% of its active population to migration – Portugal

Portugal is today the European Union country with the highest emigration in proportion of its population. There are more than two million Portuguese emigrants, meaning more than 20% of the Portuguese population lives outside the country of their birth. Over recent decades, the growth in the number of Portuguese emigrants has been greater than the growth of the resident population in Portugal. Around 110,000 Portuguese left the country in 2013 alone.

The data, according the “Portuguese Emigration Factbook”, a report issued by observatorioemigracao.pt, reveals that in 2013 alone over 110,000 Portuguese citizens left the country to settle in 16 different countries, the majority of them to 10 in European countries, the most to them settling in the United Kingdom (30,121), Switzerland (20,039), France (18,000) and Germany (11,401). In Africa, Angola received 4,651 Portuguese migrants and Mozambique 3,759.

The countries with the largest Portuguese born migrants were France (592,281) followed by Switzerland (211,451), United States (158,002), Canada (140,310), and Brazil (137,973).

In a recent study conducted in 2014, by the Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD), the United States and the United Kingdom were the countries where the most qualified Portuguese migrated. However compared to other nationalities, the Portuguese migrants were the less qualified, the study concluded. In 2001, only 11% of the Portuguese migrants held a college degree and that 41% were unskilled workers in manufacturing and transportation, the FLAD report revealed.

The study has also revealed that the Portuguese immigrant population in the United States is aging and declining due to a substantial reduction in the number of Portuguese migrants entering the country. Of the total Portuguese population and their descendants in the United Sates, 60% are concentrated in California and Massachusetts. Of those, 37% live in the New England states of Massachusetts and Connecticut; 37% in the Mid-Atlantic states of New Jersey and New York; and 15% in the Pacific region states of California and Hawaii.

The study has also concluded that after France (588,276) and Switzerland (194,940) the United States is the third country in the world with the largest Portuguese born population (1% of its total migrant population) and that about over a million Americans are of Portuguese descent.

Correction – The first paragraph has been corrected to better describe the statistical information included in the Portuguese Emigration Factbook – 2014. The complete study is available in the link below.


Read (in English) the full Observatório da Emigração report here.

Read (in Portuguese) the full FLAD report here.

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