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Research Report

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Brazil has long seen itself as a destination for immigrants from across the globe, welcoming the likes of Portuguese, Spanish, German, Russian, Polish, Czech, Japanese, and many other nationalities throughout the twentieth century. Migration out of Brazil is a relatively new phenomenon. It was catalyzed in part by the military coup of 1964, when thousands of Brazilians went into exile (though many of them returned following the amnesty of 1979). Over the last few decades, the search for better economic opportunities has led more and more Brazilians to leave their homeland. Five of Brazils’ twenty-six states – Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, Goiás, Santa Catarina, and Paraná – contribute most heavily to the migration stream, but most of the other states are also affected. It is estimated that since 1987, when approximately 300,000 Brazilians lived abroad, emigration has increased by a rate of about 20% per year. Already by 1995, as many as 2.5 million Brazilians lived abroad1. Brazil has become an emigrant country with more people leaving the country than coming in.

Drawing on data from the 2000 U.S. Census, this paper traces a demographic and economic profile of Brazilian immigrants in the U.S. and Massachusetts. It is well documented that the U.S. Census undercounts low-income populations and immigrants, particularly the undocumented. The actual size of the Brazilian population is certainly larger than that reported by the Census Bureau. However, statistical breakdowns in this report are based on the 2000 Census, since the number of Brazilians who were counted was large enough to produce meaningful comparisons.



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