Are Digital Nomads 🧑‍💻 an antidote for depopulation?

Sep 30, 2022

Depopulation or population decline can lead to an aging population and a shrinking workforce—especially in terms of highly-educated, high-skilled workers -“brain drain”-. These shortages can cause an overall reduction in quality of life, government-funded programs, and national GDP.

This phenomenon is caused by a combination of many possible factors, including aging, emigration, low birth rates, high infant mortality rates (due to underdeveloped healthcare systems), high death rates (due to war and violence), disease, or other catastrophes.

Governments are taking action to outweigh depopulation. Even though it is a multifactorial issue, countries are vouching towards digital infrastructure to attract Digital Nomads, we will share some:

1. Estonia 🇪🇪

According to the UN, Estonia’s projected depopulation rate for 2020-2050 will be 12.7%, and they’ve seen a decrease in its population growth rates since 1991.

To counteract this phenomenon, Estonia has digitized all of its services, now you can go online to name your child, file your taxes and even vote.

They’ve implemented important actions like Digital Nomads visas (pioneers) and E-Residency program, which does not grant residency in the country but does provide companies with access to European markets digitally, and is now called “the unicorn factory” with the most unicorns per capita in Europe (i.e. Skype, Wise, Bolt).

2. Spain 🇪🇸

Spain has been experiencing a depopulation trend since 1950 in the rural area (which represents 90% of the Country’s territory) “España Vacía”, and now we can see ghost towns. To fight this trend, the Government and diverse organizations are working to repopulate rural areas, building technological infrastructure for remote workers and digital nomads, some towns even pay for people to go live there.

On the other side, a law initiative called “Startups Law” - in process of approval - aims to provide tax breaks, eliminate red tape and make procedures more flexible to encourage the creation/investment in tech startups.

It also includes critical initiatives to attract international experts, bring back Spanish talent, encourage “digital nomads”, remote workers and entrepreneurs to settle in Spain (even temporarily with the digital nomad visa).

3. Portugal 🇵🇹

According to the UN, Portugal’s projected depopulation rate for 2020-2050 will be 10.9%. One of Portugal main drivers that have lead to depopulation are low wages compared to other EU countries. Therefore, its Government has leveraged the immigration that has been increasing in the last years to counterbalance depopulation.

Portugal has designed a temporary resident visa that can be used by digital nomads. It allows its holder to stay in the country for longer than 1 year and can be extended. This remote work visa can be used as a pathway to permanent residency.

The local government in Madeira (autonomous Portugal region) launched the Madeira Digital Nomads project. Participants are able to live in the Nomad Village in Ponta do Sol in either independent villas or hotel accommodation and enjoy free wi-fi, co-working stations, and networking events.

These are only some examples of how depopulation (which is way more complex than what we briefly talked about) is a phenomenon that governments must address, and digital nomad lifestyle, which will continue to grow, is one of the ways to address it.

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