Portugal and Spain, countries to return to

A comparative analysis of policies created to recuperate out-migrants


  • Filipa Pinho Iscte - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Centro de Investigação e Estudos de Sociologia; Centro de Estudos Sociais da Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal (até setembro de 2021) https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8258-1157
  • José Carlos Marques Instituto Politécnico de Leiria e Investigador do CICS.NOVA.IPLeiria https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4690-5943
  • Pedro Góis Centro de Estudos Sociais; Faculdade de Economia da Universidade de Coimbra https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5217-0285


migrants’ return; migrants’ return policy; Portugal, Spain;


In the international literature, there is a scarcity of political theories focused on emigration, when compared to the literature on immigrant integration in receiving societies. With the transnational perspective, when it was noticed that migrants maintained links with their countries of origin, the analysis was extended to how the state could influence links between migrants and their countries of origin and even stimulate returns. However, the policies of linking migrants or promoting their, and their study, started in non-European countries of emigration. This article aims to contribute to the debate on public policies for the return of migrants and, thus, increase works on why and with which objectives these policies have been defined in the intra-European space, and from the country of origin - Portugal and Spain.

In Portugal, about two decades after immigration prevalence, emigration regained prominence and intensified with the growth of unemployment and austerity measures, from 2011. On the resumption of the positive growth cycle, the return of these "new" (Portuguese) emigrants entered the academic and political agendas, with the Regressar Programme in 2019, with measures to recover working-age emigrants who had left before 2016.

Spain shares with Portugal a similar development of its migration pattern, with increased emigration. In 2019, it launched a policy programme aimed at recovering emigrants, Un país para volver.

In this paper we make the content analysis of categories on policy narratives, in comparative perspective, drawing upon the statements of these two programmes created to stimulate the return of emigrants.

Author Biographies

Filipa Pinho, Iscte - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Centro de Investigação e Estudos de Sociologia; Centro de Estudos Sociais da Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal (até setembro de 2021)

Doutorada em Sociologia, Investigadora Associada CIES, Iscte-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa e anterior (até setembro de 2021) Investigadora de Pós-doutoramento no âmbito do projeto EERNEP no âmbito do qual o artigo é produzido. Professora auxiliar convidada na Escola de Sociologia e Políticas Públicas do Iscte-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa.

José Carlos Marques, Instituto Politécnico de Leiria e Investigador do CICS.NOVA.IPLeiria

Doutorado em Sociologia e Professor Coordenador Principal do Instituto Politécnico de Leiria

Investigador do CICS.NOVA.IPLeiria

Pedro Góis, Centro de Estudos Sociais; Faculdade de Economia da Universidade de Coimbra

Doutorado em Sociologia

Professor na Faculdade de Economia da Universidade de Coimbra e Investigador do Centro de Estudos Sociais da Universidade de Coimbra.


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