Puerto Rico's Declining Population
Focus of Centro Data Sheet

With fewer babies being born in Puerto Rico, the island is seeing a drop in its overall population, according to a new data sheet published by Centro. This population trend is compounded when combined with vigorous emigration that includes many islanders of working and reproductive age.

Centro researcher Carlos Vargas-Ramos said this pattern reverses a historical trend. “Puerto Rico’s historical issue has always been one of overpopulation,” he said. “At this point, we may be seeing the beginning of the opposite phenomena: under population.” The people leaving the island tend to be those of working age, particularly the younger segment of the population who are of reproductive age, he said.

New estimates recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau indicate a sustained decline in the population in Puerto Rico from 2011 through the middle of 2013, at a rate of one-percent a year. Between 2010 and 2011, the Census Bureau estimates that the population in Puerto Rico decreased from 3.721 million people to 3.686 million. It declined further to 3.651 in 2012 and to 3.615 through the end of June 2013.

Birth declined by 2.2 percent between 2011 and 2012, from 41,200 to 40,200; and by 3.6 percent between 2012 and 2013, to 38,800 births.

This data coincides with the developments anticipated by Alejandro Macarrón in “Puerto Ricans at the Dawn of the New Millennium,” to be published by Centro in the spring of 2014. In this anthology, edited by Edwin Meléndez and Vargas-Ramos, Macarrón provides a detailed examination of social, economic, demographic and political conditions for Puerto Ricans. He outlines the potential dangers in the short- and long-term of population decline.

To view the charts and read the full data sheet, Click Here.