Press Release
The Causes and Consequences of Puerto’s Rico Declining Population
August 7, 2014

Puerto Rico’s population has been falling for nearly a decade, and the pace of decline has accelerated in recent years, according to a new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  In The Causes and Consequences of Puerto Rico’s Declining Population,”economistsJaison Abel and Richard Deitz examine the factors contributing to this population loss and discuss the resulting challenges facing the commonwealth.

The authors find that the forces driving the population decline in Puerto Rico are falling birthrates and, more significantly, a large net out-migration of the island’s citizens. Further, the study shows that although the outflow of people has quickened the pace of population aging, it has not necessarily led to a “brain drain.” In fact, the share of residents with a college degree has increased slightly in recent years, in part because people without college degrees have been leaving in higher numbers.

The study then turns to the question of how best to stem population losses. Abel and Deitz suggest focusing on measures that might shore up Puerto Rico’s economy—especially programs that expand job opportunities for younger, lower-skilled workers. The authors also underscore the importance of fiscal reforms and efforts to improve the island as a place to live and work.

Richard Deitz is an assistant vice president in the Research and Statistics Group. Jaison Abel is a research officer in the Group. Their study can be read in full in the latest Second District Highlights.

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