2017 PALCUS Index - National Community Survey

PALCUS Index National Survey Gives Insights into the Mindset of Portuguese Americans Nationwide


PALCUS is pleased to announce the results of the first ever PALCUS Index national survey. In addition to demographic and socioeconomic data, the PALCUS Index provides information about what might matter most to the Portuguese community, where they prioritize their time, effort and money, and how connected/disconnected they are to their communities and Portugal.  The responses were collected online, primarily via email and Facebook, with both English (http://bit.ly/PALCUSindex) and Portuguese (http://bit.ly/PALCUSindexPortuguese) versions of the survey available.  1230 viable responses were collected between August – October 2017.


Download full report here


"A national survey of this nature is critical for us to begin to understand what matters most to our Portuguese-American communities," said Angela Simoes, PALCUS Chairwoman.  "This survey seeks to answer questions such as why or why not are people involved in the Portuguese community; what kind of events or new activities do they want to see in their community; how often do they travel to Portugal; are they using Portuguese in their jobs?  These are questions that have never really been asked before, and knowing this information will help all of our organizations plan for the future."


The PALCUS Index will collect data on a regular basis measuring trends over time and thereby providing insights into how to maintain strong engagement with the Portuguese-American community. Data will be made available, upon formal request of PALCUS, to community organizations, academic researchers, as well as other relevant stakeholders and institutions in the United States, Portugal, and other countries.


“There is a dearth of data about Portuguese Americans, and when PALCUS Chairwoman, Angela Simoes, approached me with the idea of a project that involved ongoing collection of data on our people in the US, I immediately threw my hat into the ring,” said Dr. Dulce Maria Scott, professor of Sociology at Anderson University and PALCUS research consultant.


“Other than the socioeconomic and demographic profile provided by the US Census Bureau, there is little data available about Portuguese immigrants and their American-born descendants in the US. Further, the Census Bureau data does not distinguish between the various generations in the US. Thus, a major advantage of a survey of this nature is that it permits to discern intergenerational paths of integration into US society undertaken by our people who arrived in the US at different historical periods and settled in different regions of this vast country,” Dr. Scott added.


Characteristics of respondents and some of the key findings include:


  • The majority of the respondents are between the ages of 35 and 64, 68% are married, and 53% of these are married to someone of a different descent (non-Portuguese). As the generations succeed each other in the US, the likelihood that one’s spouse is Portuguese declines.

  • The level of education of survey respondents is considerably higher than that indicated in the 2016 American Community Survey (ACS) for all Portuguese Americans. Compared to ACS data, our sample contains a higher percentage of retired and self-employed respondents and a lower percentage of people employed for wages. In our sample, the main level of income falls between $75,000 and $99,999, and the median family income is in upper bracket of this response category. ACS data indicate that the median family income of Portuguese Americans nationally is $82,356, and this is more than $11,000 higher than the median family income for the US as a whole.

  • Politically, Portuguese Americans are also well integrated. Both the PALCUS survey and the ACS show that they have high rates of US citizenship. Additionally, the PALCUS survey shows that respondents have high levels of voter turnout as well as other forms of political participation. The number of Portuguese-American elected and appointed officials continues to grow in America.

  • Among respondents, there is a rapid decline in the ability to speak Portuguese from generation to generation. There is also a steep decline from one generation to the next in the transmission of the Portuguese language to children. An intergenerational decline is also evident in the number of visits to Portugal, although many Luso-descendants indicate that they travel to Portugal on vacation/tourism, to get to know the place that their ancestors come from, to study, and to trace their genealogy, among other reasons.

  • Of primary concern among survey respondents is how we maintain the viability of our community organizations and sustain our cultural distinctiveness within American society, when we are faced with sharp declines in immigration from Portugal and our American-born youth feel the strong pull of assimilation into the American mainstream.

  • Congruent with the prioritization of cultural concerns, of highest importance among respondents is the transmission of the Portuguese language across generations. The maintenance of Portuguese cultural practices as well as ties to Portugal also ranked high among the respondents in terms of in-group priorities. 

  • Last, but not least, there is a considerable amount of support among respondents for the existence of an organization that represents the interests of Portuguese Americans at the national level. PALCUS will continue to endeavor to fulfill this role and be a voice for Portuguese Americans nationally as well as promote US/Portugal relations.


"This first survey is exploratory, in the sense that it is based on a sample of convenience, which is not representative of the entire Portuguese-American population. Notwithstanding, combined with American Community Survey data, we have been able to provide an exciting and useful portrayal of Portuguese Americans that, when it comes to the demographic and socioeconomic variables, goes beyond the survey participants and into the entire Portuguese-American population,” Dr. Scott stated.


The PALCUS Index national survey was made possible in part through the financial support of organizations such as Rhode Island College, Portuguese-Fraternal Society of America, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and Anderson University.  PALCUS thanks these organizations for their collaboration and support.


As this is an ongoing effort, we welcome the collaboration of other organizations and institutions at any time.  Please contact PALCUS at palcus@palcus.org for more information.


Methodology and Considerations


The survey data is based on a sample of convenience, collected through social media and PALCUS’s membership and online network. PALCUS is working on finding viable ways of attaining a more representative sample of the Portuguese American population.


“In our next survey, we will implement a strategy to collect responses in person from those who are not online or have access to the internet,” added Chairwoman Simoes.  “We understand the need for a more representative sample to obtain more accurate data, and at the same time, feel that this first survey was a great starting point.”


The data collected in the current survey was analyzed by Dr. Dulce Maria Scott, who then authored the survey report that we are making public today. The report was subsequently reviewed and accepted by the PALCUS survey committee, consisting of the following individuals:


  • Angela Costa Simoes, PALCUS Chair

  • Katherine Soares, PALCUS Vice Chair

  • Marie Fraley, PALCUS Director and Managing Director

  • Dulce Maria Scott, PhD, PALCUS research consultant, Anderson University

  • Diniz Borges, PALCUS Director, Honorary Consul and Professor of Portuguese at Tulare Union High School


A PDF of the full version of the report can downloaded here:

The PALCUS Index National Community Survey is conducted online using QuestionPro survey software.  



QuestionPro provides unparalleled insights and just launched enterprise features including CommunitiesCustomer ExperienceWorkforce and Mobile.

Download full infographic here.

GRA VP Horizontal CMYK.jpg

Sponsored in part by