Portuguese professor warns for “demographic self-destruction"


Southern Europe

A man with a Portuguese flag walks along Avenida da Liberdade in Lisbon. photo EPA, Jose Sena Goulao

A Portuguese professor says that in the last decade, a “demographic tragedy” occurred in Portugal. He warns of the danger of “demographic self-destruction”.

Henrique da Costa Ferreira, who is also the president of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bragança–Miranda, in the north-western part of Portugal, has studied Portugal’s demographic and educational dynamics since 1993. In an analysis of the 2021 Census, Da Costa Ferrera states that the released data “reveal a country in the process of demographic self-destruction. Through this – or because of it–, economic, social, cultural and, in the end, political, as it will no longer have a country when there is no territory, population and culture”.

In an op-ed published by the Portuguese Catholic press agency Agência Ecclesia, the professor states that “the tragedy that any student of demography had foreseen is fulfilling itself”.

Da Costa Ferreira goes on by saying that “the Portuguese, because of a combination of factors, including economic crises, job instability, low pay, the capitalist-consumerist and Social State appeal to hedonism, do no longer want to have the sacrifice of raising children.”

According to the professor, demographic growth is only in a few regions in Portugal. Among these regions is the metropolitan area of Lisbon, which has an “overconcentration trend”, mainly because of the “negative growth” in the Porto Metropolitan Area, which “is about to stop being a pole of demographic attraction”.


The president of the Diocese of Bragança–Miranda thinks that the organizsing powers in Portugal should take steps to “save the little that can still be saved”. “Otherwise, there will be leftover elderly people abandoned and very few young people and adults who can pay the Social Security with which we can support old age for them.”

Henrique da Costa Ferreira ends his op-ed by stating that people should be “inspired by the solidarity that God has recommended us to follow and let’s not let others make decisions for us. The potential of human beings is the best with which we can build happiness among men.”

Peak population

After reaching its peak population in 2008 of 10.6 million people, Portugal’s population has gradually declined. In 2020, Portugal’s population was around 10.2 million people. According to World Population Review, the Portuguese population is projected to be 9.08 million people in 2050. By 2099, there are supposedly 7.01 million Portuguese people in the Southern European country. The median age in Portugal is currently 46.2 years.



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