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Portugal's interior is depopulating

The figures leave no room for doubt, even after a second reading. It's a sad truth: Portugal's hinterland is being depopulated. Portugal risks finding itself in a situation of no return, and therefore it would be very worrying not to remedy this, declared Fernandes de Matos during one of the analyses of the preliminary results of the 2021 census.

Portugal's interior is depopulating

Data published today by the French National Institute of Statistics (INE) indicate that over the last decade between 2011 and 2021, Portugal will experience a population decline of 2 %. This translates into overpopulation of coastal cities and population concentration in the capital.

For regional development researcher and professor at the University of Beira Interior Fernandes de Matos. There's still time to halt the depopulation of Portugal's inland regions.

These data confirm that public policies have not had the desired results. Regional policy, in a way, aims to reduce asymmetries, and what we've seen is that despite the millions that have been invested every year, these investments haven't produced the results they were supposed to. As a result, Portugal's interior, and more specifically its inner core, continues to empty out, not to say die," stressed Fernandes de Matos in statements to the Lusa press agency.

From the researcher's point of view, "the desertified interior and overpopulated coastline are a de-economy", with significant economic, social and environmental costs, so the solution must be to reverse public policies.

The scenario presented in the preliminary results of the 2021 census "is not encouraging" and for some areas in the interior of the country, is a real debacle, said Fernandes de Matos. He considers that the population is falling by between 14 % and 18 % in certain areas, as is the case in Almeida (-18.8 %), Celorico da Beira (-14.4 %), Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo (-17.7 %), Idanha-a-Nova (-14.2 %), Manteigas (-15.2 %), Potters (-14.4 %), Penamacor (-16.2 %), Pinhel (-15.9 %) and Proença-a-Nova (-14.0 %).

Covilhã, a university town, has seen its population drop by 10.3 % over ten years, which is a lot", added the professor from the University of Beira Interior, explaining that it has been difficult to retain people in the Beiras and Serra da Estrela sub-regions, also because there is "a huge wave of young people leaving abroad", who are qualified but can't find good working conditions to continue in Portugal.

In this sense, the researcher stated that Portugal has not been able to monetize your resourcesThe solution, he argues, lies in "creating income", because "poorly paid work does not promote development".

Public decision-makers, as well as private investors, need to examine these data very carefully and once and for all, find a platform for dialogue, for collaboration, to reverse these figures, and quickly, because I would say it's not yet too late," declared Fernandes de Matos.

Defending a "new cycle" of population concentration on the country's coast, the professor at the University of Beira Interior warned that the interior is "increasingly depleted of resources and demographic resources", requiring better articulation of regional development policy, whether national or European, and "a major public policy effort to revive the regional economy".

Portugal now has a population of 10,347,892, 214,286 fewer than in 2011, according to the preliminary results of the 2021 census. In census terms, the only decade in which there was a decrease in population was between 1960 and 1970, INE reported.

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