Left: A city street in Libson, Portugal at dusk. Right: Dawn in Maputo, Mozambique.

Crazy!” A decade ago, that was the reaction to the idea of moving from Portugal to Mozambique. Now the idea seems not so crazy after all.

According to a recent Financial Times article, a growing number of Portuguese—including lawyers, architects, and engineers—have chosen to head to quickly growing Mozambique in search of new opportunities and escape from their home country’s ongoing economic sluggishness:

It is estimated that there are about 20,000 Portuguese people in Maputo. [The Portuguese consul-general in Maputo] says the number of people registering at the consulate increased by about 10 per cent in the past couple of years, with more than 1,000 people registering in 2011.… Portugal’s economic crisis has coincided with a spike in investor interest in Mozambique, one of several Portuguese-speaking nations in Africa. The southern African nation has been one of Africa’s top growth performers in recent years.

Portugal’s “reverse brain drain” is not so surprising in light of the results of The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. As shown in the adjacent chart, Portugal and Mozambique have mapped quite different trajectories in recent years. Mozambique has consistently gained economic freedom, while Portugal has registered an accelerating loss. As a result, over the past five years, Mozambique has expanded its economy at an average annual rate of over 7 percent while Portugal has grown at less than 1 percent.

Economic freedom matters not just for Portugal but for many other troubled economies, including our own. The need to restore and improve our economic liberty is stronger now than ever.

Image used under Creative Commons from bezaleel31, ILRI/Mann