Migration is the Driving Force of Rapid Aging in Puerto Rico: A Research Brief

Amílcar Matos-Moreno, Alexis R. Santos-Lozada, Neil Mehta, Carlos F. Mendes de Leon, Félice Lê-Scherban, Amélia A. De Lima Friche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The combined effects of declining fertility and increased longevity have accelerated population aging in different parts of the world. Unlike other countries, Puerto Rico is also experiencing unprecedented levels of working-age out-migration. The full impact of high out-migration on Puerto Rican demography is not fully understood. Placing Puerto Rico’s aging process in an international context is useful in identifying the role out-migration is having on the accelerated aging of the Puerto Rican society. Using the World Population Prospects 2019 estimates, we compared the pattern of rapid aging found for Puerto Rico with the trajectories of six other countries with the highest population of 65+ in the World, Europe, and the Caribbean from 1960 to 2020. Prior to 2010, the aging process in Puerto Rico was comparable to the other countries. After 2010, the percent of the population over 65 years in Puerto Rico nearly doubled from 13.1% to 21%. The nearly doubling of the percent of older adults is not observed in any of the comparison countries. We find that the rapid aging of Puerto Rico, changing from a linear trend to an exponential one, is a result of accelerating levels of out-migration, which is concentrated in the working-age population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)801-810
Number of pages10
JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Demographic transitions
  • Migration
  • Population composition
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rapid aging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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