Rui Pena Pires, one of the authors of the Atlas of Portuguese Emigration, which will be presented next Tuesday, said in an interview with Lusa agency that Portugal has always had citizens emigrating and emigrants returning to Portugal.

“If 60,000 are leaving and 20,000 are returning [per year] it is because a third are returning, which is a very significant number,” he said.

Interestingly, he highlighted, “and at least in the emigration of recent years, those returning are mainly of a young age”, being under 40 years old.

For Rui Pena Pires, “there should be a reorientation of State policies in terms of return”.

“I think it’s not that useful to have incentives to return. It is not because of incentives that people return and it is not because of a lack of them that they stop returning”, he indicated.


And he warned of the difficulties that emigrants face in Portugal when they return after extended stays.

“They return to a new emigration. The integration difficulties they had in the country they are returning from are the same. They no longer know anything, they no longer know how things work, the taxes they have to pay; they face many difficulties”, he continued.

For the sociologist and specialist in emigration, “in a return support policy, what would be essential is a policy of support for returning emigrants, bureaucratic and administrative support”.

“The majority of emigrants who return do not even know the rights they have, the special statuses that exist for emigrants. There are offices to support emigrants that could do this task, they could be offices to advise emigrants and resolve difficulties”, he defended.

And he concluded: “There is a need for much more support than incentives to return”.

According to the Portuguese Emigration Atlas, between 2001 and 2020, on average, more than 75,000 people left Portugal annually. During this period, more than 1.5 million Portuguese people chose to live outside Portugal, that is, close to 15% of the population.

In 2021, Portugal received more than 3.6 billion euros in remittances from emigrants, a value greater than European transfers to Portugal and four times more than remittances sent abroad by immigrants.