“At the time of the census, 19 April 2021, 10,343,066 people resided in Portugal (4,920,220 men and 5,422,846 women), which represents a decrease of 2.1% compared to 2011”, said the National Statistics Institute (INE).
According to the INE, this reduction constitutes a reversal in the population growth trend that has taken place in recent decades and represents the “second population drop recorded since 1864, the year in which the First General Population Census was carried out”.
In terms of the census series, Portugal had only registered a reduction in its population in the 1970 censuses, as a result of the high emigration observed in the 60s, the institute stressed.
Where is the population growing?
In the last decade, the Algarve (3.6%) and the Lisbon Metropolitan Area (1.7%) registered a population growth, while in the other regions the effective population decreased, with the Alentejo (7.0% less) and the Autonomous Region of Madeira (6.4% less) seeing the most significant declines, according to INE.
The 2021 censuses also mention that the country’s “pattern of coastalisation” and the concentration of the population near the capital have been reinforced in the last decade, with about 20% of the country’s population concentrated in the seven most populous municipalities, which cover an area of only 1.1% of the territory.
“At the other extreme, also representing around 20% of the population, we have the 208 least populated municipalities that occupy 65.8% of the country's area”, said the INE.
The final data now released indicate that, between 2011 and 2021, in all age groups up to 39 years old, there was a decrease in the population, with a particular incidence in the group from 30 to 39 years old.
According to the 2021 census, the "masculinity ratio" is 91 men per 100 women, but the number of men is higher than that of women in the ages up to 30, with the ratio inverting from that age onwards.
At older ages, the number of women is “clearly higher than that of men”, reflecting the higher levels of mortality in the male population, the INE also indicates.
In 2021, the average age of the Portuguese population was 45.4 years, having increased by 3.1 years compared to 2011, with the highest values being registered in the Centre (47.5 years) and the Alentejo (47.4 years), with the Azores remaining as the region with the lowest average age (41.7 years).