During the last two centuries, Portugal has witnessed continuous migration flows. Using data from different sources (both from the destination countries and from Portugal), we will show that over the past 30 years Portugal never stopped being a country of emigration and that, in recent times, these outflows have become more diversified in terms both of destination countries and the profiles of the emigrants. Without neglecting emigration flows before 2008, particular attention will be given to emigration flows that developed after the start of the economic crisis. We will show that current Portuguese emigration is not exclusively due to the economic crisis, but also due to the structural characteristics of migration flows, linked to migration networks from the past and the dependence on different migration systems. In the second part, we will reflect on both the relation of the Portuguese state to its emigrant communities, and the current political debates on the recent increase in emigration flows, and their connection to the economic crisis.
- Destination Country
- Migration Flow
- Migratory Movement
- Parliamentary Debate
- Migratory Destination
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Over the last 20 years the social, political and academic importance attached to Portuguese emigration, and in particular to emigration flows, has contrasted with the size and social significance of the migratory outflows during these years. Considered a feature of the past, and associated with a reality marked by low levels of development, emigration did not readily fit into the narrative of economic and social development promulgated during this period. Statistical data provided by host countries, however, shows that since the mid-1980s, and especially in the early years of the new millennium, the outflows of Portuguese citizens intensified, new emigration destinations such as Angola, Brazil, and the UK emerged, traditional destinations of emigration (e.g. France and Switzerland) became more developed, and forms of migration became more diverse. This diversification is one of the most distinct characteristics of current Portuguese emigration movements, noticeable through the development and combination of different forms of mobility (short-term, temporary and more permanent) and the modification of emigrants’ socio-demographic characteristics. Although emigration of citizens with few qualifications continues to be dominant, it is noticeable that there is an increase in highly qualified migrants. On the following pages we will, firstly, analyse current Portuguese emigration, showing that it is influenced by an interaction of economic factors and pre-existing migration networks that structurally support on-going emigration flows, which have become geographically more diverse due to the development of mobility opportunities within and beyond Europe. In the European case these opportunities have led to the expansion of mobility patterns based on multiple interconnections between Portugal and the destination countries, and by a continued intense participation in a labour market delimited by the borders of the European Union and by the borders of countries with which it has special agreements.
In the second section, we will reflect on both the relations of the Portuguese State with its emigrant communities abroad, and the current political debates on the recent increase in emigration flows. We emphasize that these debates have not been followed up by policies directed towards new Portuguese emigration structures, and that they continue to be based on the image of emigration from the past century.
5.2 Portuguese Migratory Dynamics and Volumes in the Last Decades
Emigration had, for the last couple of centuries, been a “structural constant” (Godinho 1978) of the Portuguese society. The outflows were directed to different geographical regions according to the demands of the international labour market. Like several other European countries, Portugal participated in the two great migratory waves of the nineteenth and twentieth century (the transoceanic, and the intra-European migratory flows).Footnote 1 During the first wave more than two million people left Portugal for the new world (mainly for Brazil), and throughout the second wave, which lasted roughly from the 1950s to 1974, almost as many individuals left, predominantly for other countries in Europe (particularly France and Germany) (Baganha et al. 2005).
Between 1974 and 1985 permanent emigration decreased significantly and return migration registered a strong increase. During the 1980s, 1990s, and the first decade of the new millennium, Portugal recorded, like other Southern European countries, a remarkable increase in the foreign resident population – from 58,091 in 1980 to 451,742 in 2009. This deep transformation of the Portuguese migratory landscape nurtured the development of a social and political (and also scientificFootnote 2) discourse on the absence of continuing outflows, that contrasted with the size and social significance of the actual emigratory flows recorded during these years. Considered to be a characteristic of the past and associated with a reality marked by low levels of development, emigration did not readily fit into the dominant narrative of economic and social development during this period.
However, as frequently happens, data contradicts this dominant definition of reality. After the mid-1980s there is evidence of a revival in the outflow of Portuguese nationals, which is characterized by three main elements: a transformation of the institutional context in which it occurred, the development of new destination countries (see below), and the emergence of new forms of migration (see Sect. 5.4). At the institutional level, when Portugal became a member of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1986, new conditions were created for the movement of Portuguese workers (and, incidentally, for a lack of visibility of emigration movements, because official statistics on exits to other European countries ceased in 1988). In 1992 Portuguese nationals gained access to a European area in which the free movement of people was possible. This seemed to create adequate conditions for a recovery in the outflow of Portuguese citizens, mainly directed towards the northern European countries that, until the abrupt halt of the early 1970s, were the main destinations of Portuguese emigrants. The data on the arrival of Portuguese citizens in some destination countries provided by Baganha (1993), Peixoto (1993), and Baganha and Peixoto (1997), show that between 1985 and 1990, Portugal experienced an increased frequency of exits (on average 33,000 individuals per year left the country during this period, mainly to non-EU countries) which, nevertheless, was substantially lower than that recorded during the preceding decades.
Another indicator of this increase in the external mobility of Portuguese citizens can be revealed through an analysis of the changing numbers of Portuguese nationals residing in other European countries. Table 5.1 shows a continuous increase in Portuguese citizens living in selected European countries after 1985. This increase is explained, not only by the natural increase in the number of Portuguese citizens already living abroad, but also by new migratory movements.
It is particularly significant that in several of the selected countries, the total number of Portuguese citizens more than doubled between 1985 and 2000, thus clearly showing that the notion of an end to the Portuguese migratory movements, repeatedly asserted at the beginning of the new millennium, was a de facto illusion.
The marked increases (in both absolute and percentage terms) recorded in countries in which the presence of Portuguese nationals was, until the 1980s, nearly insignificant, indicate that from that time onwards Portuguese emigrants found alternative destinations to the traditional receiving countries of migrant labour forces. The cases of Switzerland and the United Kingdom are particularly illustrative of the creation and consolidation of new migratory destinations; in these two countries the Portuguese became a significant foreign community in a relatively short period of time.
Data on Portuguese-born people living in another European country (Table 5.2) confirms that the increase described was particularly evident after 2005, and that a substantial part was due to new migratory movements.
The upsurge in Portuguese emigration during the 2000s and particularly since 2005 is also observable in the data on the inflow of Portuguese citizens to some other European countries. This data shows that emigration resumed its growing trend, after a temporary interruption between 2007 and 2010 due to the economic crisis experienced by some of the potential destination countries of Portuguese emigrants (e.g. Spain) (Table 5.3).
Taken together, the data presented in the preceding tables illustrate simultaneously the significance of Portuguese integration in the Western European migration system, and the variety of migratory destinations that emerge and develop in different national frameworks. The maintenance of these migratory destinations is contingent on the evolution of the opportunity structures and/or the emergence of alternative migration structures (Marques 2008, 2009). So, for example, the reduction of the emigration flow to Spain (due to a decrease in job opportunities in this country) was compensated, from 2010 onwards, by an increase of the inflow of Portuguese citizens to Germany and especially to the UK.
Though striking, the data presented above does not capture entirely the dimension of the Portuguese outflows after 2005. Available data (see below) show that, in addition to the European destination countries, the current emigration flow is heading toward destinations that until now only marginally functioned as host countries for Portuguese migrants. Thus, Portuguese emigration destinations have become geographically more diversified, complementing the integration into the Western European migration system with an increased participation, as a country of origin, in the Lusophone migration system. In this last migration system the cases of Brazil and Angola are paradigmatic of the development of new destinations for Portuguese emigration due to the marked economic growth experienced by these countries in the last few years. In Angola the number of Portuguese emigrants entering the country increased from 156 in 2006 to 23,787 in 2009. Currently, in 2013, there are around 115,000 Portuguese citizens living in Angola.Footnote 3
Although available official data is insufficient to describe the evolution of Portuguese migratory flows to Brazil, there is evidence that it has increased in the last few years. Thus, for example, work visas issued to Portuguese citizens in Brazil rose from 477 in 2006 to 2,913 in 2013, and the number of Portuguese residents in Brazil registered at a Portuguese Consulate increased from 493,227 in 2008, to 558,737 in 2012.Footnote 4 Although incomplete, these figures show a clear growth in Portuguese emigration to Brazil and Angola that reversed the migratory movements which took place during the 1990s and early years of the twenty-first century.
We should state that an element of these flows to Brazil and Angola (and also to other Lusophone countries) could include an unknown number of citizens from these countries who previously migrated to Portugal, and during their stay in the country acquired Portuguese citizenship.
In sum, in the new millennium, and particularly with the beginning of the 2008 economic crisis, Portuguese emigration went both to traditional destinations and to new destinations. The participation in various migration systems, each at different phases, is able to compensate for any reduction in employment opportunities in a particular destination, or to react to an increase in the national emigration pressure. Portuguese emigration becomes therefore geographically more diverse, adding to its ability to include new European countries as effective host countries, the capacity to include destinations that overstep the borders of the European continent.
Annual estimations of Portuguese outflows made by the Portuguese Statistical Office confirm, for 2011 and 2012, the return to substantial emigration flows. According to these data 222,396 emigrants left the country, 43.1 % of them permanently. If we compare these data with the average outflow during the most intense period of Portuguese emigration in the twentieth century (on average 97,695 emigrants left the country each year between 1960 and 1974) it is possible to suggest that the idea of a return to the past is an adequate description for the current migratory situation.
An accurate description of the social and demographic characteristics of contemporary Portuguese emigration is, due to data limitations, unfortunately not possible. We believe, however, that in these respects the current emigrants reproduce, with some alterations, the features already present in previous emigration flows. The changes observed in contemporary movements result either from changes in the international labour market (and, in particular, in the demand for migrant workers in the major destination countries of Portuguese migrants), and from transformations in Portuguese society itself. Together these changes contribute to certain distinctive characteristics of the Portuguese emigrants of the twenty-first century. The skill level of those currently involved in the outflow appears, in public and academically informed discourse, to be one of the most significant characteristics. If one of the distinguishing differences between the transatlantic movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and the intra-European migration of the 1960s and early 1970s was the “generalization to the entire country of the ‘emigration zone’” (Almeida and Barreto 1970: 233), we believe that it is possible to hypothesize that, in addition to the features of the new migratory forms mentioned above, one of the distinctive elements of the current emigration movement is the generalization of the emigration experience to virtually all professional categories. In fact, while the emigration flow of the 1960s and 1970s was composed of predominantly poorly qualified people from the agricultural, industrial and domestic work sectors, with negligible emigration of skilled professionals,Footnote 5 contemporary emigration, despite continuing to be mostly unskilled, seems, according to some mainly anecdotal information, to record an increase in the proportion of people with higher levels of qualification. Thus, for example, in 2014, 29.3 % of Portuguese-born working in the UK had a tertiary degree (see chapter on the United Kingdom). In France, data on emigrants arrived between 2006 and 2011 show also a higher proportion of highly skilled when compared to emigrants arrived in previous periods (see chapter on France).
Docquier and Rapoport (2012) state in their study on the evolution of the “brain drain” in the past four decades, that Portugal was, in 2000, one of the European countries most affected by skilled emigration, with a skilled emigration rate of 19.5 % of the skilled workforce in the country, or 13.1 % if we limit the analysis to those who arrived in the country of destination aged 22 or over.Footnote 6 Several media reports show that during the 2000s and early 2010s the emigration of higher-education graduates continued and intensified, increasingly including more professional groups (e.g. professions related to the health sector). Some of these professionals are recruited directly in Portugal and, while abroad, work in activity sectors directly related to their academic training. Others encounter some difficulties in transferring their qualifications to other labour markets and experience a labour market integration that is dissonant with their area of qualification, and as a result suffer downward mobility.
In terms of demographic characteristics, available information does not allow for a rigorous description of the age and sex structure of those who currently leave the country. Estimates of annual emigration published by the Portuguese Statistical Office show that most of those who temporarily or permanently left the country were male (72 % in 2012) and in the active age group (in 2012, 57 % of migrants were between 20 and 39 years of age). Although differences between permanent and temporary migrants seem to be insignificant, it should be noted that the former have a younger age structure (with 55 % between 20 and 34 as opposed to 40 % for temporary migrants) and a higher proportion of women (29 % of permanent and 23 % of temporary migrants).
5.3 Economic Crisis, Unemployment and Changes in Migration Flows
The majority of these outflows are a result of the negative growth in the Portuguese economy and the profound transformations of the Portuguese labour market brought about by the economic crisis. From 2009 to 2013 (with the exception of 2010) the Portuguese economy was marked by an unfavourable evolution. The average annual GDP growth rate in these 5 years was −1.7 % (or 2.6 % if the year 2010 is not included in the calculus) (INE, database, various years). The annual decrease in the GDP, and the austerity measures had a profound impact on the Portuguese labour market. One of its biggest impacts is the massive increase in unemployment, and changing forms of employment, which affect some groups (e.g. youths, immigrants) in a more intense way. Workers aged 45 and over also form a disproportionate share of the hard-luck recession category, the long-term unemployed. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial and economic crisis, unemployment reached its highest level and socio-economic inequalities increased. Since the second half of 2008, the unemployment level started to rise sharply and is now well above 10 % (16.3 % in 2013, whereas in 2008 it was 7.6 %). The young were particularly affected by unemployment, registering a 128 % increase in their unemployment rate from 2008 to 2013 (Table 5.4).
Immigrants from non-EU member countries are also a social group particularly hit by unemployment in the aftermath of the 2008 financial and economic crisis. Their unemployment level is well above the national average and registered a more marked increase within the last years than the national average, rising from 13.0 % in 2007 to 30.4 % in 2013 (INE, Employment Survey, 2007 and 2013).
Due to these increases in the levels of unemployment, it is possible to state that the economic crisis was not only responsible for the recent increase in the outflow of Portuguese nationals (either by birth or by naturalization), it also impacted on the number of immigrants living in Portugal. Data on the evolution of the foreigners living in the country with a valid residence permit shows a continuous increase between 2001 and 2010 (marked by successive legalization opportunities for immigrants) and a noticeable decrease thereafter. This declining tendency became even more evident in 2013 when the total foreign population reached a number that was below the one they had just before the 2008 economic and financial crisis. This decrease is shared by the six major national groups present in the Portuguese territory (as we can see in Table 5.5). The data shows that, after an intense increase between 2001 and 2008, all nationalities experienced, albeit at a different pace, a clear decrease. We must emphasize the existence of a new citizenship law that allowed the naturalization of a very high number of legal foreign residents, which is part of the cause of this decrease.
5.4 Migratory Patterns
To the outflows of a more permanent character it is necessary to add a significant flow of temporary exits, sometimes of a circular character, which have intensified in recent decades as a result of the deepening of globalization, the EU’s freedom of movement, the development of information and communication technologies, the emergence of low cost aviation companies in Europe, and the widespread growth of atypical forms of employment contract (visible, for example, through the extension of subcontracting processes to ever more areas of activity). Since the mid-1980s, these forms of temporary migration are a central characteristic of Portuguese outflows to different European countries. For example, in Switzerland the number of temporary entries of Portuguese citizens during the 1980s and 1990s was approximately 33,000, and 16,000 during the first 8 years of the twenty-first century (Marques 2008, 2009). After the end of the transition period fixed in the agreement on the free movement of labour signed between Switzerland and the European Union (2001–2007), the temporary entry of Portuguese citizens to Switzerland remained high (roughly 17,000 per year). Given that these are not permanent movements, it would be inaccurate to state that the overall number of temporary exits during the period under study corresponded to an equal number of migrants. Many of these outflows are carried out in successive years by the same migrants. They are, in fact, repeated movements of a single migrant and not new emigration movements performed by different migrants.
An undetermined number of these movements correspond to a circular migration movement that combines periods abroad (in one or several countries) with periods in Portugal. Some anecdotal information on the flow of Portuguese citizens to Angola or Mozambique (but also to other destinations of Portuguese multinational corporations), published in the national press, testify that this temporary migration also takes place in non-European contexts, although in these cases migration periods tend naturally to be of longer duration.
5.4.1 The Case of Posted Workers
A specific case of these temporary exits of Portuguese citizens is formed by posted workers, which developed as a result of Portugal’s membership of the European Union (Ramos and Diogo 2003). This type of migratory outflow is substantially different from traditional forms of Portuguese emigration due to the fact that Portuguese companies acted as subcontractors of big European construction companies that used free movement within the European area to their advantage by promoting the mobility of Portuguese workers. This allowed Portuguese construction companies to benefit from the differential in labour costs that existed between Portuguese and other European construction workers (Baganha and Cavalheiro 2001).
In Germany, the number of posted Portuguese workers in 1997 was 21,919, representing 12.1 % of all posted workers and 40.1 % of posted workers from a European Union country (Worthmann 2003). Portuguese migrants were thus the largest group of posted workers from an EU member country working in Germany. According to some sources these figures did not account for the real number of Portuguese citizens involved in this type of migration flow, since they only refer to posted workers in a regular situation and therefore did not include around 35,000 Portuguese working as irregular posted workers (Gago and Vicente 2002: 212).
More recent data shows that in 2007 and 2009, Portuguese posted workers were, respectively, 66,048 and 65,499, and that in 2009, the main destination countries were Spain, France and Germany (European Commission 2011).Footnote 7 From 1 May 2010 the Portable Document A1Footnote 8 has replaced the E101 certificate. Data on the issuing of these documents for 2010 and 2011 shows a continuous declining trend of the number of documents issued (Table 5.6) that, in 2011, recorded the lowest value of the last 5 years (54,183). This downward trend is clearly a result of the economic crisis in some of the former destination countries as we can see from a detailed analysis of the evolution of numbers of posted workers by main countries of destination.
This shows that the decline in posted workers to Spain accounts for the main reduction in the overall number of Portuguese posted workers between 2009 and 2011. A portion of this reduction was compensated by an increase in detachments to the Netherlands, and especially to France which, taken together, show an increase of detachments during the same time interval. Since the majority of the detachments head for the construction industry and public works (67.5 % in 2011) (European Commission 2012), it is conceivable that the crisis in this sector in Spain deflected the movement of posted workers to those national contexts in which the construction industry and public works were less affected by the economic crisis, or are in a process of recovery from the effects of this crisis.
Despite the mentioned limitations, data from detachments are indicative of mobility patterns and trends that have developed in recent years. They complement previously presented figures showing that opportunities for mobility within Europe have contributed (and continue to contribute) to the diversification of migratory opportunities for Portuguese citizens. These opportunities seem particularly relevant for workers in sectors that have been most affected by the current economic crisis (e.g. construction and public works).
Taken together, the different types of temporary outflows to other member states of the European Union or to countries with which it has special relations (e.g. Switzerland), as well as more permanent emigration movements, have benefited from the possibilities of free movement within the European Union or the European Economic Area. The structuring of different destinations within this European migration system (and, from the mid-2000s onwards, within the Lusophone migratory system (Marques and Góis 2012; Baganha et al. 2005; Marques 2008)) allows for the diversification of migration opportunities, and consequently increases migrants’ opportunities to react to short-term instabilities that arise in countries which are part of this migratory system (driven, for example, by economic, and /or political constraints). It can thus be said that one of the peculiarities of contemporary Portuguese emigration is a result of the multiplicity of migratory destinations, which are activated according to the set of opportunities that emerge and develop in different destination countries (Marques 2008, 2009).
Like the Portuguese outflows of the twentieth century (Baganha 1994), the pursuit of economic opportunities that are lacking in Portugal is one of the main reasons for current emigration flows. The rise in unemployment, the stagnation or even reduction in salaries, a lack of positive expectations regarding economic growth, etc., are powerful drivers of emigration flows. Although important, these conditions do not by themselves fully account for the intensity of the emigration flow. As in past emigration movements, the development and maintenance of present emigration is based, in different degrees and in variable configurations, on social structures that support migration. It is the positive evolution of these structures, consisting of family members, friends and acquaintances, which contribute to the self-sustainability of the migration process.
Two types of social network allow potential migrants to connect to existing opportunity structures in the country of origin and to access, after they arrival in the country of destination, resources that are important for their initial permanence in that country. It is thus possible to differentiate between ‘internal migration networks’Footnote 9 and ‘external migration networks’. The first type of network helps to create, mainly in the country of origin, the necessary conditions to achieve emigration. It allows, for example, access to recruitment opportunities abroad, or knowledge of entities with potential relevance in accomplishing the migration process.
The second type of migratory network develops after leaving the country, and connects, in the destination country, recently arrived migrants with already established migrants (Marques 2008). These latter networks assume a different role in accordance with the national context in which they operate. They seem to be more relevant in more traditional emigration contexts (e.g. France and Switzerland) and play a less central role in recent emigration destinations (e.g. UK or Angola). So the recent emigration flow to France still maintains an initial connection with older and established emigration communities that contribute to the integration of newcomers in the labour market (often in companies owned by Portuguese or through replacing retiring Portuguese), and in the French housing market. Emigration to England has, at least partially, a lesser connection to previous emigration flows, and thus a greater propensity to integrate, either in new labour market sectors, or new geographical areas.Footnote 10
5.5 Policies and Political Debates on Emigration
During most of Portugal’s emigration history, political debates where framed by the contrasting objectives of controlling the migration flow, and to allow for the continuing emigration regarded both as an answer to overpopulation (from the perspective of the available employment opportunities), and as a source of remittances necessary for the industrialization and development of the country (among others, Baganha 2003; Pereira 2002, 2004, 2014). Until the national Constitution of 1976 the freedom to emigrate was constrained by the national interest (commonly defined as the interest of Portuguese elites). The inscription of the right to emigrate in the national Constitution (art. 44) occurred at a time when Portuguese emigration flows witnessed a deep transformation due to the end of the labour recruitment programmes of France and Germany.
The country’s accession to the European Community in 1986 brought about a certain invisibility of migratory outflows and concurrently a change in the political elites’ attitudes towards emigration. The exit of Portuguese citizens became an “embarrassing fact” (Baganha et al. 2005) that was in contradiction with the country’s position among the most developed countries of Europe. The denial or, at least, the underestimation of on-going outflows went along, as said previously, with increasing immigration flows that were much more acceptable to the development discourse of the political elite of that time. Thus, in the last decades, emigration was subjected to a continuous process of deflation whereby existing outflows were not incorporated in the political discourses and in scientific practices.
Political debates and initiatives on emigration during this period were mainly on policies aimed at promoting the emigrant’s engagement with their country of origin (Marques and Góis 2013). Only after the recent upsurge in the outflow of Portuguese citizens has it been possible to observe an increase in the discourses (political, scientific, and by the media) on emigration flows.
Due to the incipient expansion of current emigration, these discourses are however of a fragmentary nature and frequently not integrated in an overall strategy on emigration flows and emigration communities abroad. In order to analyse the quantitative evolution and the changes in the formal political debates on emigration, an analysis of parliamentary debates of the last 8 years (from 2006 to 2013)Footnote 11 was conducted.Footnote 12 The objective was to discover if, as a result of the economic crisis, emigration became a salient theme in parliamentary debates and if there was a substantial change in the categories that usually frame the political debate on emigration.Footnote 13
The quantitative analysis shows, notwithstanding some important fluctuations, an overall increase in references to emigration/emigrants over the last 8 years, from 37 references in 2006 to 85 in 2013. This increase is evident both in references to emigrants and to emigration, and is particularly noticeable since 2011 (the year that marked the beginning of the EU/IMF financial assistance program). This increase in references to emigration/emigrants does not however evidence a clear and unquestionable renewed interest in emigration: from the 503 analysed texts in which a reference to emigration/emigrants was made, 42.9 % refer to issues that are not directly linked to emigration, such as proposals on the creation of municipalities, laws on immigration, or in reports on the participation of deputies in external activities. And 21.3 % of the references are mainly related to past emigration flows and to the Portuguese community abroad (questions on associations, on the Portuguese media abroad, on the teaching of Portuguese language abroad, on descendants of Portuguese citizens, on the Council of Portuguese Communities,Footnote 14 on fiscal aspects, and on citizenship and political participation of emigrants).Footnote 15 Debates on current emigration cover thus ‘only’ 18.4 % of the analysed documents and even these are not exclusively on present emigration flows.Footnote 16 As could be expected the main themes discussed in regard to present emigration refer to the growth of the emigration flow, the measures adopted by the State to assist these new emigrants (mainly through the development of the network of consular posts), questions of integration, and visa policies of non-EU receiving countries (e.g. Angola). The debated issues frequently did not lead to concrete measures or policies towards present day migrants. An exception are measures that intend to facilitate circulation between Portugal and non-EU countriesFootnote 17 and measures that albeit not directed to current emigrants impact on their engagement with the country of origin (measures on the reduction of consular workers or on the availability of Portuguese Language and Culture courses abroad). Most of existent engagement policies were created in the aftermath of Portuguese emigration of the 1960s and early 1970s. They are, therefore, marked both by the characteristics of these emigrants and by the objective to expand post-1974 democratic participation to Portuguese citizens living abroad. Thus extra-territorial political participation was introduced in 1976, the Council of Portuguese Communities Abroad was created in 1980, and Portuguese Language and Culture courses where introduced in 1973/1974 (Marques and Góis 2013; Aguiar 2009, 1987).
A closer look at the debates on current emigration flows reveals that most of them are made either in a discussion on the economic crisis (and used as an ‘instrument’ to question the austerity policies adopted by the government), or on questions related to the integration of these emigrants (or their children) in the destination country.
The instrumental use of emigration is particularly evident in the discourses of the opposition parties that blame the government for the increasing outflows, as can be seen in the following excerpts:
Given this dramatic reality, the government cannot deny (…) that the emigration of Portuguese citizens has increased with the growth of economic difficulties in our country (Communist Party, Diary of the National Parliament, 25/05/2013).
Many thousands of young people, including the most qualified, are pushed to the inevitability of emigration by a government with no vision for the future, which is unable to open the horizon of hope for them (Socialist Party, Diary of the National Parliament, 23/03/2013).
The issue of the brain drain to which the last citation refers is a salient theme both in the parliamentary debates and in the media. In both cases different groups (politicians and journalists) use anecdotal evidence of the outflow of highly skilled Portuguese citizens either to illustrate the negative impact of this emigration flow on the future of Portuguese economy, or to illustrate the most important differences between current Portuguese emigration vis-à-vis past emigration flows. Although the most salient issue (together with the general increase in outflows) in public debates on current emigration is the issue of highly skilled migration (and on the brain drain usually associated with it), this has not lead to significant policy responses aimed at this component of the current migration flows, or at current migration in general. Most of the policies adopted by the Portuguese State (e.g. the Council of Portuguese Communities) continue to be based on an image of emigration from the 1960s and early 1970s. Support and network structures directed at highly skilled migrants are a result of the efforts of this type of migrant in the destination countries, and receive after their creation a variable amount of support from the Portuguese State (mainly through the Portuguese Embassies).Footnote 18
5.6 Final Remarks
Emigration is an integral part of Portuguese society that in the last couple of years has gained a new momentum. Like previous outflows the current wave has been shaped by the existing institutional and political framework, by the development of the conditions for mobility and by the functioning of migratory networks. Distinct features of present day migration flows are the diversification of destination countries, the participation of a significant proportion of highly-skilled in the emigratory flow, and the coexistence between old and new forms of migration. These new forms of migration are mainly the result of the legal and institutional framework created by the accession of Portugal to the European Union in the mid 1980s, and thus take advantage of the opportunities for circulation that exist within the European area. During the early years of this century, the Portuguese migratory destinations have become more diversified, complementing European destinations with the intensification of outflows to other countries, especially to Portuguese-speaking countries (above all to Brazil and Angola).
A substantial part of the current migratory movement is motivated by the country’s economic constraints, and in particular by the continued rise in unemployment, and by the existence of economic benefits in other countries. The links between job opportunities abroad and potential migrants are, like in past migration flows, promoted by the activation or, as is the case of the most recent destination countries, by the construction and consolidation of migratory networks.
The revival of Portuguese emigration after the 2008 financial and economic crisis did not lead to concrete and strategic policies directed towards the new reality of emigration, as is evident from the analysis of the parliamentary debates described in the second part of the chapter. Policies continue to privilege the engagement of emigrants with their country of origin and most of them are based on the image of earlier emigration flows (Marques and Góis 2013). As described in the first part of this text, contemporary Portuguese emigration exhibits important differences from previous emigration flows, making it necessary to study the appropriateness of these policies for the current outflow (a study that it is not possible to pursue in this place). Although present day emigration continues to be mainly composed of less qualified workers, it remains to be seen if existing policies also appeal to more qualified migrants and to migrants who have a more temporary or even a circular migration trajectory.
See, for example, the book on the ‘end of the migratory cycle’ to Europe (Paiva 1985).
According to Baganha (1994) these professional groups had no rational motivation for migration since the existing labour market segmentation assured them a higher level of income.
The first figure includes skilled immigrants regardless of whether they obtained their qualification in the country of origin or destination. The second figure uses information on the age at entry into the country of destination as a proxy for the country in which their qualification was acquired (assuming that those who entered aged 22 or more acquired their qualification in the country of origin) (Beine et al. 2006).
Data concerning posted workers does not necessarily correspond to a same number of migrants, as the same worker may have been assigned more than one E101 certificate (or, after 2010, a Portable Document A1).
Council Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 regarding the coordination of social security systems (European Commission 2012).
The notion of ‘internal migration networks’ is used to mean the relationship, in the country of origin, between migration candidates, migrants and non-migrants (at the individual or institutional level, like for example the notices of job opportunities in other countries made available by the Portuguese Employment Service offices).
In 2001, 61.5 % of all Portuguese-born in England lived in the London region. Ten years later this percentage decreased to 47.8 %, while all other regions in England reported an increase of Portuguese-born (most significant in the East and South East regions of England). (Data from UK Census 2001 and 2011, available at http://infuse.mimas.ac.uk/).
Two reasons justified the selection of the year 2006 to start our study. First, the year 2006 corresponded to a legislative period which was not influenced by a parliamentary electoral campaign. Second, and more important, during this year the economic crisis was not yet present in the political and media discourse, so allowing for a comparison with the following years which were strongly affected by the crisis.
For this study 503 texts with references to emigration and/or emigrants were analysed. The total number of documents with references to these two themes was 553, but since 50 documents could not be retrieved from the database of the National Parliament they were excluded from our analysis.
It is important to note that this study of parliamentary debates was not guided by the intention of conducting a discourse analysis, but by the aim to identify prominent emigrant related themes that figured in the daily-transcribed parliamentary debates. Therefore an inductive content analysis was conducted and the relevant passages of the diaries where coded according to a coding scheme that emerged from the analysed texts. We have used 30 categories and 59 sub-categories to map the relevance of Portuguese emigration related subjects for the period 2006–2013 in the interventions of the Portuguese MPs and government members. This research technique allowed for the identification of the most relevant categories and the measurement of the frequency of references in each category.
This Council was created in 1980. It has a consultative role in advising the government in matters related to emigration and Portuguese communities abroad (Marques and Góis 2013).
This does not mean that some of these issues could not also refer to new emigrants and recent emigration flows. But the context in which they were discussed refers exclusively to Portuguese communities that resulted from past emigration flows.
The remaining 17.6 % of the analysed documents make references to emigration/emigrants not related to this theme (for example during the discussion of the annual State budget, or during debates on the European Union.)
For example, the bilateral agreement between Portugal and Angola on visa facilitation.
Examples of these networks are the PARSUK – Portuguese Association of Researchers and Students in the United Kingdom and the Association Agrafer, France.
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Marques, J.C., Góis, P. (2017). Structural Emigration: The Revival of Portuguese Outflows. In: Lafleur, JM., Stanek, M. (eds) South-North Migration of EU Citizens in Times of Crisis. IMISCOE Research Series. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-39763-4_5
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