Portugal

   

Social Policies

#25
Key Findings
With the Costa government focusing on revitalizing social systems, Portugal falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 25) in the area of social policies. Its score on this measure represents a gain of 0.5 points relative to its 2014 level.

Education levels are low and unequal by international comparison. However, decades-long polices have helped substantially increase the share of young people completing secondary school. PISA results have also improved. Austerity measures imposed on the welfare system have been reversed, but spending has not returned to pre-bailout levels.

The health care system performs well, but continued funding constraints have led to strikes and resignations. Child-support credits have been expanded. The birth rate has risen, but not to pre-crisis levels. Women’s workforce participation is often forced by generally low wages and household income needs rather than free choice.

Pension values have been increased. The retirement age is now indexed to life expectancy, but the government allows people who began working between the ages of 12 and 14 to retire by age 60. Integration policy is strong, with a welcoming framework for migrants. The country has consistently accepted refugees as part of the EU resettlement program.

Education

#30

To what extent does education policy deliver high-quality, equitable and efficient education and training?

10
 9

Education policy fully achieves the criteria.
 8
 7
 6


Education policy largely achieves the criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Education policy partially achieves the criteria.
 2
 1

Education policy does not achieve the criteria at all.
Education Policy
6
Education policy is a field in which results only come to fruition long after their implementation. In the case of Portugal, we can see a steady improvement in educational attainment since the beginning of the new millennium. At the same time, these improvements have been insufficient to reverse a historic pattern of low overall and unequal levels of educational attainment.

In terms of the three criteria under analysis, we can point to inequality in the quality of education obtained and generally low levels of efficiency. Though these have been improving, the unstable policy framework has meant that these improvements are arguably taking place at a slower rate than would otherwise be possible.

In terms of educational attainment, Portugal continues to present low and unequal levels of educational attainment. The country remains firmly anchored at the bottom of the OECD in terms of the proportion of the population having completed upper secondary education, with less than 25% of the population aged between 25 and 64 having reached this level. While Portugal fares comparatively better in terms of tertiary education (24%), it remains below the OECD average in this regard as well.

At the same time, earlier policies are now paying off. In 2009, the country extended compulsory education until the end of secondary school (12th grade). Almost a decade later, the impacts of this policy can be assessed. The proportion of 18 – 24 year olds leaving school without completing secondary school dropped from 30.9% in 2009 to 12.6% in 2017. Equally, the proportion of the population aged between 25 and 64 having completed secondary school increased from 14.5% to 21.1% over this same period, a 6.6 percentage point increase (whereas from 2001 to 2009, this increase was of 2.8 percentage points). PISA assessment results for Portugal also show a steady improvement over time, with Portugal emerging as one of the most improved countries since the first round in 2000.

These improvements are also true at the university level. In the 2006 Academic Ranking of World Universities, Portugal was the only EU-15 country not to have at least one institution in the top 500 (excluding Luxembourg, which has a limited higher education structure). In 2018, Portugal has four universities in the top 500.

However, there remains room for improvement, on at least three grounds. First, there is significant variation in the quality of education between schools. The average score in the 2017 national exams ranged from 12.87 (out of 20) for the highest rated public school to 7.08 in the lowest rated public school. The variance is even greater when we consider all schools, thus encompassing private schools also, with the best performing school presenting an average of 15.04 – more than twice the average for the lowest rated school. Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggests that the quality of education is often unequal within schools. Second, these differences reflect policy failures, including the lack of effective accountability mechanisms and incentives, weak lifelong training, and inefficient management systems. Third, considerable instability in the sector – with substantial changes from year to year – means that the educational system is unpredictable and the impact of changes is limited. This instability has continued through the period under review, with the adoption of a new system for special needs education in July 2018, decree-law 54/2018, which seems likely to lead to shortages in the provision of necessary support.

Citations:
Academic Ranking of World Universities 2018, available online at: http://www.shanghairanking.com/ARWU2018.html

Expresso (2018), “Ranking 2017 das Escolas,” available online at: https://expresso.sapo.pt/ranking-das-escolas-2017#gs.gonQJ0A

OECD (2018), Adult education level (indicator). doi: 10.1787/36bce3fe-en
Pordata (2018), “População residente com 15 e mais anos por nível de escolaridade completo mais elevado (%),” available online at: https://www.pordata.pt/Portugal/População+residente+com+15+e+mais+anos+por+n%C3%ADvel+de+escolaridade+completo+mais+elevado+(percentagem)-884

Pordata (2018), “Taxa de abandono precoce de educação e formação: total e por sexo,” available online at: https://www.pordata.pt/Portugal/Taxa+de+abandono+precoce+de+educação+e+formação+total+e+por+sexo-433

Público (2018), “Pressa na mudança de regime deixa muitos alunos com necessidades especiais sem apoios,” available online at: https://www.publico.pt/2018/09/29/sociedade/noticia/mudanca-de-regime-deixa-muitos-alunos-sem-apoios-1845677

Social Inclusion

#26

To what extent does social policy prevent exclusion and decoupling from society?

10
 9

Policies very effectively enable societal inclusion and ensure equal opportunities.
 8
 7
 6


For the most part, policies enable societal inclusion effectively and ensure equal opportunities.
 5
 4
 3


For the most part, policies fail to prevent societal exclusion effectively and ensure equal opportunities.
 2
 1

Policies exacerbate unequal opportunities and exclusion from society.
Social Inclusion Policy
5
Government social policies seeking to limit socioeconomic disparities do exist, but they are poorly funded and not very effective in preventing poverty.

The 2011 – 2014 bailout led to the adoption of a number of austerity measures that sought to reduce public expenditure on social inclusion and contributions to poverty-reduction programs. This led to an increase in the share of those at risk of poverty after social transfers, from 17.9% in 2010 to 19.5% in 2014 and 2015.

The Costa government has stated its intention to turn the page on austerity. However, the government has not relinquished its approach to budgetary consolidation to achieve this goal.

As such, while there has been a reversal in austerity measures imposed on pension and welfare payments, the situation has not yet returned to pre-bailout levels. Thus, while the share of the population at risk of poverty after social transfers fell to 18.3% in 2017, this remains slightly above the level immediately before the bailout. In short, there has been some progress, but there remains a long way to go with regard to significantly reducing the risk of social exclusion.

Citations:
Eurostat, “People at risk of poverty after social transfers,” available online at: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/tgm/refreshTableAction.do?tab=table&plugin=1&pcode=t2020_52&language=en

https://www.publico.pt/…/portugal-em-11-lugar-no-risco-de-pobreza-ou-exclusao-soc…

Health

#29

To what extent do health care policies provide high-quality, inclusive and cost-efficient health care?

10
 9

Health care policy achieves the criteria fully.
 8
 7
 6


Health care policy achieves the criteria largely.
 5
 4
 3


Health care policy achieves the criteria partly.
 2
 1

Health care policy does not achieve the criteria at all.
Health Policy
6
Portugal performs comparatively well across a number of health policy indicators, including life expectancy and infant mortality, with results that significantly outperform the level of public expenditure.

At the same time, the focus of the health care system is largely reactive and focused on “big ticket” statistics (e.g., life expectancy and infant mortality). The health care system pays relatively little attention to the women’s concerns during childbirth. Likewise, the number of healthy years after 65 years of age is well below the EU average, even though the life expectancy exceeds that of Portugal’s EU counterparts.

As in other public policy areas, the country’s national health system came under financial pressure in the previous review period because of the pressure on Portugal to curb public expenditure. Likewise, while the Costa government seeks to end austerity, it also aims to sustain budgetary consolidation, with the health care sector affected by de facto restrictions on expenditure.

These financial constraints led a number of hospital boards and service directors to resign in 2018. Between March and September 2018, resignations – in protest to the lack of resources, equipment and conditions – affected four public hospitals. In addition, there were numerous strikes by nurses and medical technicians in protest to the lack of funding.

Citations:
Diário de Notícias (2018), “Vivemos mais anos do que a média da UE mas menos saudáveis,” available online at: https://www.dn.pt/portugal/interior/vivemos-mais-anos-do-que-a-media-da-ue-mas-menos-saudaveis-9166882.html

Público (2018), “Este ano mais hospitais já tiveram demissões em bloco,” available online at: https://www.publico.pt/2018/09/05/sociedade/noticia/este-ano-mais-hospitais-ja-tiveram-demissoes-em-bloco-1843181

Families

#16

To what extent do family support policies enable women to combine parenting with participation in the labor market?

10
 9

Family support policies effectively enable women to combine parenting with employment.
 8
 7
 6


Family support policies provide some support for women who want to combine parenting and employment.
 5
 4
 3


Family support policies provide only few opportunities for women who want to combine parenting and employment.
 2
 1

Family support policies force most women to opt for either parenting or employment.
Family Policy
7
In 2017, the birth rate was 8.4 births per 1,000 persons, the same as in 2016, though an improvement from 7.9 births per 1,000 persons during the bailout years of 2013 and 2014. However, these changes appear to be driven more by improving economic conditions than by changes to family policy. The birth rate remains well below the pre-bailout rate of 9.6 births per 1,000 persons in 2010. Moreover, the current birth rate falls well short of mitigating Portugal’s looming demographic crisis, with the low birth rate aggravated by a high emigration rate. The United Nation’s median projection forecasts that Portugal’s population will decline from 10.5 million in 2010 to 9 million in 2050.

Policy changes in 2018 have reinforced several of the measures mentioned in the previous report, such as an extension of free primary-school textbooks, and further increases in the amount and coverage of child-support credit (“abono de família”) in the 2018 budget.

However, these measures fall well short of providing a legal and substantial support framework that would enable women to freely decide whether and when they want to enter full- or part-time employment. In a country with low wages, female participation in the workforce – which is one of the highest in the OECD – reflects the income needs of households as much as it does the actual choices of women and families.

Citations:
Eurostat, “Live births and crude birth rate” Available online at: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/tgm/refreshTableAction.do?tab=table&plugin=1&pcode=tps00204&language=en

UN, “World Population Prospects 2017 – Portugal,” available online at: https://population.un.org/wpp/Graphs/Probabilistic/POP/TOT/

Pensions

#33

To what extent does pension policy realize goals of poverty prevention, intergenerational equity and fiscal sustainability?

10
 9

Pension policy achieves the objectives fully.
 8
 7
 6


Pension policy achieves the objectives largely.
 5
 4
 3


Pension policy achieves the objectives partly.
 2
 1

Pension policy does not achieve the objectives at all.
Pension Policy
5
The pension system was one of the main policy areas in which the government sought to reduce public expenditure during the 2011 – 2014 bailout period.

One of the key elements in the Socialist Party’s agreement with the PCP and BE involved ending the austerity approach to pensions. In 2018, pension values were again increased, continuing the pattern set in 2016 and 2017. Exact details on pensions, which is a key policy issue in Portugal, can be found in the citations below.

The official retirement age is linked to life expectancy. In 2018, it was increased to 66 years and four months from 66 years and three months in 2017. In October 2017, the government also reintroduced the conditional possibility of early retirement for workers who began work between 12 and 14 years old.

Despite this adjustment factor, the system faces medium- and long-term financial imbalances according to the analysis of a former social security secretary of state, a problem that is likely to be compounded by an aging population profile.

Citations:
Maria Margarida Corrêa de Aguiar (2018), “Sustentabilidade financeira da Segurança Social: números, diagnósticos e entendimentos,” available online at: https://www.publico.pt/2018/04/23/economia/opiniao/sustentabilidade-financeira-da-seguranca-social-numeros-diagnosticos-e-entendimentos-1811092

https://observador.pt/seccao/economia/pensoes/

Integration

#7

How effectively do policies support the integration of migrants into society?

10
 9

Cultural, education and social policies effectively support the integration of migrants into society.
 8
 7
 6


Cultural, education and social policies seek to integrate migrants into society, but have failed to do so effectively.
 5
 4
 3


Cultural, education and social policies do not focus on integrating migrants into society.
 2
 1

Cultural, education and social policies segregate migrant communities from the majority society.
Integration Policy
9
In previous SGI reporting periods, we noted that the recent economic crisis had been accompanied by a decrease in immigration. This pattern reversed in 2016 for the first time since 2010, with the total immigrant population increasing by 2.3% in 2016 to 397,731 people. This increase accelerated in 2017, with an increase of 6% compared to the previous year and with the legal immigrant population reaching 421,711 people. This upward trend is likely to continue into 2018.

In previous reports, we noted that Portugal has a welcoming policy framework for migrants. The country ranked second in the European Union in the 2015 Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) in terms of most favorable migrant-integration policies. While the MIPEX has not been updated, existing evidence suggests that this continues to be the case. The recent OSCE Good Practices in Migrant Integration: Trainee’s Manual highlights a number of good practices in Portugal, notably in terms of the coordination of migrant integration; generating a more integrated framework across the national and local levels; providing language courses to migrants; and developing mentoring programs for migrants involving companies, municipalities and institutions.

In April 2018, parliament approved several amendments to the naturalization laws. Overall, these changes make naturalization easier. For example, children of migrants gained the right to nationality at birth if one of the parents had been legally in the country at the time of birth for two years (down from five years previously). Furthermore, the amount of time necessary for naturalization of a legal migrant was reduced from six years to five years and children of illegal migrants born in Portugal can gain citizenship under certain fairly easy to achieve conditions.

Portugal has sought to be a leader at the EU level with regard to refugees and migrants, advocating a liberal position. It has consistently shown a willingness to take in refugees and a government statement in June 2018 indicated that Portugal had received the sixth highest number of refugees as part of the EU resettlement program. Likewise, it was one of four countries that welcomed migrants from the Aquarius ship, which had been denied access to Italian ports in September 2018.

Citations:
Lei Orgânica nº 2/2018 [Law no. 2/2018], available online at: https://dre.pt/home/-/dre/115643970/details/maximized

Migrant Integration Policy Index, “Key Findings – Portugal 2015,” available online at: http://www.mipex.eu/portugal

Ministério da Administração Interna (2018), “Dia Mundial do Refugiado – nota à comunicação social,” available online at: https://www.portugal.gov.pt/download-ficheiros/ficheiro.aspx?v=921271d6-310e-494e-bcc7-ee88171f2bd3

OSCE (2018), Good Practices in Migrant Integration: Trainee’s Manual, available online at: https://ec.europa.eu/migrant-integration/?action=media.download&uuid=17D9FD33-0B7B-A37B-0CD6F2869D688741

Safe Living

#10

How effectively does internal security policy protect citizens against security risks?

10
 9

Internal security policy protects citizens against security risks very effectively.
 8
 7
 6


Internal security policy protects citizens against security risks more or less effectively.
 5
 4
 3


Internal security policy does not effectively protect citizens against security risks.
 2
 1

Internal security policy exacerbates the security risks.
Internal Security Policy
8
Portugal is signatory to and participant in all relevant Europe-wide programs regarding public security. In addition, Portugal has created a General Secretariat for the Internal Security System, which reports to the prime minister via the minister for internal administration.

Overall, reported crime increased 3.3% in 2017 relative to 2016, although violent crime declined by 8.7% over this period.

Portugal remains a relatively safe country in international terms. Furthermore, Portugal has not experienced a terrorist attack of the kind witnessed in Belgium, France, Germany, Norway, Spain or Turkey. Whether this is due to effective intelligence gathering and policing or the priorities and preferences of potential terrorists is unclear.

In the previous report, we noted the failure of civil-protection services during the 2017 forest fires, which resulted in over 100 deaths and over 500,000 hectares of burned land. While Portugal again faced substantial forest fires in 2018, notably in the Algarve, their impact was considerably more limited, with no reported deaths and with the total area burned by the end of August being the third lowest of the previous 10 years. These improvements are due to a more active policy framework with regard to forest fire prevention, with the government embarking on a number of forest fire prevention initiatives (e.g., strengthening the requirement for landowners to clear shrubbery that could otherwise fuel fires), and more favorable weather conditions than in 2017.

In the previous report, we also noted that the robbery and subsequent recovery of a massive amount of arms and ammunition, including grenades, from the military arsenal at Tancos. Disclosures during 2018 showed that the military was involved in a cover-up regarding this robbery and the recovery of the weapons. The development of this affair in 2018 has significantly undermined the military’s credibility.

Citations:
Sistema de Segurança Interna,“Relatório Anual de Segurança Interna 2017,” available online at: https://www.portugal.gov.pt/download-ficheiros/ficheiro.aspx?v=9f0d7743-7d45-40f3-8cf2-e448600f3af6

Pordata (2018), “Incêndios rurais e área ardida – Continente,” available online at: https://www.pordata.pt/Portugal/Incêndios+rurais+e+área+ardida+–+Continente-1192

Público (2018), “Área ardida em 2018 regista terceiro valor mais baixo dos últimos dez anos,” available online at: https://www.publico.pt/2018/09/07/sociedade/noticia/area-ardida-em-2018-regista-terceiro-valor-mais-baixo-dos-ultimos-dez-anos-1843371

Global Inequalities

#28

To what extent does the government demonstrate an active and coherent commitment to promoting equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries?

10
 9

The government actively and coherently engages in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. It frequently demonstrates initiative and responsibility, and acts as an agenda-setter.
 8
 7
 6


The government actively engages in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. However, some of its measures or policies lack coherence.
 5
 4
 3


The government shows limited engagement in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. Many of its measures or policies lack coherence.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute (and often undermines) efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries.
Global Social Policy
5
There has been virtually no change in this area vis-à-vis previous reporting periods. Foreign aid remains very much a secondary consideration in foreign policy, with the main interest being in economic diplomacy promoting the Portuguese economy and its exports. That does not mean that Portugal is disengaged – it still participates through the provision of foreign aid, especially in the Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa and East Timor. However, while there is some funding for foreign-aid projects, there is little concern with overarching aid policy, which means that coherence has not been as strong as it might be. This lack of interest has also percolated through to the design of international policies and the lack of international leadership in that regard. It must also be kept in mind that Portugal is a follower, not an international leader, and has very few resources. Therefore, while Portugal is supportive of good intentions, it is in fact marginal with regard to the implementation and design of foreign assistance.

However, if the question were to be shifted to include foreign involvement beyond the financial and economic sphere, then Portugal is a “supplier of security” through its fairly limited participation in U.N., NATO, and EU security- and humanitarian-support missions. Furthermore, in specific instances such as Guinea-Bissau, Portugal is relatively very active in attempting to stabilize national governments, promote security and ultimately promote development. Despite Portugal’s limited resources, it is providing the first professional military education to the armed forces of Guinea-Bissau.
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