Puerto Rican Exodus Is Speeding Island’s Economic Collapse

The choice is heart-breaking: stay to help other families, or leave to help your own. 

That’s the calculation thousands in Puerto Rico are making. The bankruptcy of the U.S. commonwealth, the culmination of years of decline, has accelerated an exodus that’s adding to the island’s economic misery.

“I had to choose for my family,’’ said Aledie Amariah Navas Nazario, 39, a pediatric pulmonologist who left behind young asthma patients when she, her husband and two small daughters moved to Orlando, Florida.

The population drop is astonishing. The island has lost 2 percent of its people in each of the past three years. A comparable departure from the 50 states would mean 18 million people moving out since 2013. About 400,000 fewer Puerto Ricans live on an island of 3.4 million today compared with a decade ago, when its economy began contracting. 

The departures have trapped Puerto Rico in a downward spiral. A grinding

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