The number of births in Portugal increased in 2016 for the second consecutive year, but this did not prevent the Portuguese population from declining, as it has been since 2010.
Women are having more children, emigration is decreasing, the number of marriages has grown and the divorce rate is down but still this is not enough to stop the decline in the overall number of citizens.
There are many positive signs, released by the National Institute of Statistics, but this is not enough to stop an overall trend of depopulation which successive governments have failed to reverse despite policy initiatives.
"The demographic situation in Portugal continues to be characterised by a decrease in the resident population, despite the increase in the birth rate and the decrease in emigration. The population decline has been maintained since 2010, although it has subsided in the last three years,” reels off the Inistitute.
The births rate is encouraging as for the first time since the end of the 1990s, Portugal has had two consecutive years of increase. In 2016, there were 87,126 births, compared with 85,500 in 2015 with a ‘fertility rate’ of 1.36 children per woman - the highest value since 2010.
To guarantee the replacement of a generation, a minimum of 2.1 children per woman is necessary, a value that Portugal has not reached since the beginning of the 1980s.
While births are up, so are deaths in Portugal with just over 110,500 leaving this earth for good. Hence, the Portuguese balance remained negative at -23,409 people.
Slightly fewer people entered Portugal than left to live elsewhere. In 2016, there were 29,900 arrivals and 38,300 permanent leavers - down 5.2% over the previous year but still a net loss so the migratory balance remains negative at -8,400 people, even though better than in 2015.
At the height of the economic crisis, the loss of population through emigration was over 30,000 per year.
This all adds up to the resident population being 10,309,573 people at the end of last year.
The number of marriages has increased, helped by a rise in same-sex marriages, "There were 32,399 marriages, close to the previous year, although the number of marriages between people of the opposite sex has decreased slightly."
There were fewer divorces in 2016 with 22,340 couples parting company. This was 1,037 fewer than in 2015."
The boost in numbers through immigration has not happened even though the socialist government said it would take 10,000, or even 20,000 refugees from the holding camps in Greece and Italy. Bureaucracy and the desire of refugees to settle in the wealthier northern countries has left Portugal's immigration plans in an embarassing muddle with a couple of thousand coming to Portuagal and half of them leaving within the first year.