by Andrea González-Ramírez

In the US, Puerto Ricans are the second largest Hispanic origin group, following Mexicans and ahead of Cubans and Salvadorans. The recent migration patterns have changed greatly in the last few decades and the island has suffered a sustained decrease in population since 2000.

One of the main reasons is that the economic situation in Puerto Rico is a mess. They are still deep in an economic recession that has lasted eight years, the unemployment rate is almost 14 percent and the island is struggling to pay off a $73 billion public debt. Due to these difficulties, many people have chosen to live in the mainland instead.

More have said they plan to do so as well following the recent announcement of a new tax reform bill proposed by Governor Alejandro García Padilla, which proposes a 16 percent impuesto de valor añadido (IVA) or value-added tax (VAT). The national opposition has been fierce and many have played off the tax acronym with the phrase,  “IVA: Imposible Vivir Aquí”, which means literally “it’s impossible to live here.”

I want to make the visualizations to show where are the Puerto Ricans establishing themselves (now that the population stateside is bigger than in the island) and how that compares to previous migration waves in the last century, while explaining why  they’re choosing to leave.


The visualizations will be based on a data set published by the Pew Research Center and reports published in 2014 describing the migration patters in recent years. This would be complemented by the American Community Survey’s data.


  1. María Enchautegui – Senior research assistant at the Urban Institute and former professor of Economics at the University of Puerto Rico who has done extensive research on the Puerto Rican migration waves to the United States.
  2. Edwin Meléndez – Director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College.
  3. José R. Rodríguez – Demographer and professor of Sociology at the University of Puerto Rico.