Portugal

   

Social Policies

#26
Key Findings
With the new government focusing on revitalizing social systems, Portugal falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 26) in the area of social policies. Its score on this measure represents a gain of 0.4 points relative to its 2014 level.

The education sector has been harmed by years of budget cuts. However, PISA results have improved, and a new program will provide free primary-school textbooks. The Costa government has focused on reversal of austerity measures imposed on pensions and welfare. Spending on families has increased, and the share of people at risk of poverty fell for the first time since 2007.

The health care system produces comparatively good outcomes, but has been stressed by spending cuts. Child-support credits have been expanded, and the birth rate has returned to marginal growth following precipitous decline. A study has shown a need for family-policy reforms, and the government appears likely to pursue its recommendations.

Pension values have been increased. The retirement age is now indexed to life expectancy, but the government has promised to allow all people who began working between 12 and 14 to retire by age 60. Integration policy is strong. Portugal accepted refugees as part of the EU resettlement program, but many have left. Serious forest fires killed dozens of people in 2017.

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
Much has been promised for the education system by the Programa do XXI Governo Constitucional 2015 – 2019.

In early 2015, the OECD called attention to the negative impact of successive education budget cuts and advocated for an increase in the education budget.

In the 2015 UNDP Human Development Index, Portugal was ranked 43rd out of 49 countries in the Very High Human Development category. However, with only 8.2 “mean years of schooling” in 2014, Portugal was below all other 49 countries in this area except Kuwait; even Spain had 9.6 “mean years of schooling.”

Shortly after taking office in 2015, the Costa government implemented a review of the national system for student assessment, with these changes taking effect in the 2015 – 2016 school year. Positive signs since have included an improvement in Portugal’s PISA results and a decision to introduce free primary-school textbooks beginning with the 2017 – 2018 school year.

Generally, the most recent OECD Human Development Report shows progress for Portugal in the area of education.

In March 2017, the government launched a series of innovations aimed at improving the quality of education. These are summarized in the dispatch (despacho) cited below.

Citations:
http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/hdr_2015_statistical_annex.pdf

Alexandre Homem Cristo, “Ziguezagues nos exames (e o silêncio do ministro),” 11/1/2016, Observador. Available online at: http://observador.pt/opiniao/ziguezagues-nos-exames-silencio-do-ministro/

http://hdr.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/PRT

Despacho No. 1971/2017 – Diario Da Republica No. 48/2017.

Social Inclusion

#28

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. Between 2010 and 2014, taxes were first imposed and then increased on pensions, which were treated like ordinary income for this purpose. In view of the need to reduce the government’s social costs, there was also substantial pressure to reduce contributions to poverty-reduction programs.

This led to an increase in the share of those at risk of poverty after social transfers, from a level of 17.9% in 2010 to 19.5% in 2014 and 2015.

The Programa do XXI Governo Constitucional 2015 – 2019 heavily emphasizes programs addressing social inclusion, featuring policies such as an increase in the minimum wage and a reversal of austerity measures imposed on pension and welfare payments.

The new government increased spending for families by €79, to €1,497 per month, or €17,967 per year. Previously, the 2008 has been kept without increase through 2015.

The share of people at risk of poverty after social transfers fell in 2016 to 19%, the first decrease since 2007. However, it remains higher than in the pre-bailout period and is above the EU average. In short, there has been some progress, but there remains a long way to travel with regard to significantly reducing the risk of social exclusion.

Citations:
Expresso

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

Health

#28

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’s population shows comparatively good levels of overall health. However, as in other areas of public policies, the country’s National Health System (NHS) came under financial pressure in the previous review period because of the pressure on Portugal to curb public expenditure.

In May 2015, the OECD published a near-200-page book evaluating Portugal’s health care, called “OECD Reviews of Health Care Quality – Portugal: Raising Standards.” The findings, as stated in the book’s executive summary, are relatively positive. They call attention to the following points:

- An impressive array of quality-monitoring and improvement initiatives;
- A primary-care system that performs well, with rates of avoidable hospitalization, which is among the best in the OECD for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
- Significant efforts being made to reorganize the country’s hospital sector; and
- Sustained progress in containing spending, while maintaining efforts to improve care quality.

A recent OECD report on the issue of health care in Portugal documented overall improvement in this area.

At the same time, the period revealed some gaps in the health care system, notably in terms of providing adequate safety measures. In October 2017, at the close of the review period, there was an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at one of Lisbon’s public hospitals, killing at least two people and infecting a further 30 hospital patients. It appears that the bacteria came from the hospital’s water supply.

Citations:
https://data.oecd.org/portugal.htm#profile-health

Reuters (2017), “Legionnaires’ disease in Lisbon hospital kills two, 32 infected,” 7/11/2017, available online at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-portugal-health-legionnaires/legionnaires-disease-in-lisbon-hospital-kills-two-32-infected-idUSKBN1D7235

Marlene Carriço (2017), “Sobe para 19 número de casos de Legionella com ligação ao Hospital S. Francisco Xavier em Lisboa,” Observador – 4/11/2017, available online at: http://observador.pt/2017/11/04/8-casos-de-legionella-diagnosticados-no-hospital-s-francisco-xavier/

Families

#17

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
The Programa do XXI Governo 2015 – 2019 promises major improvements to family policy. Most of these pledges have yet to be adopted. However, those that have include the introduction of free primary-school textbooks and an increase in the amount and coverage of child-support credit (“abono de família”). Both policies were approved in the 2017 government budget. In the 2016 government budget, the government changed income-tax deductions for children, estimating that this change would improve net income for 80% of households.

During the period under review, the birth rate increased to an estimated 8.4 births per 1,000 persons in 2016, as compared to an estimated 7.9 births per 1,000 persons in 2014 and 8.3 births per 1,000 persons in 2015. This remains below the rate of 9.6 births per 1,000 persons in 2010. Data for 2016 suggests this increase is likely to continue. However, these changes appear to be driven more by improving economic conditions than by any changes to family policy.

A very extensive study released in 2017 highlighted the need for family-policy reforms, and the government shows substantial political will with regard to implementing such reforms.

Citations:
See Igualdade de Genero em Portugal: Indicadores-Chave 2017 Comissao para a Cidadania e Igualdade de Genero, 2017.
See Diário da República 1, série-No 170 – 1 September 2015, Lei No 120/2015.


Expresso 27 November 2015

“Abono de família vai abranger 130 mil crianças em 2017,” Expresso, 17 October 2015. Available online at: http://expresso.sapo.pt/politica/2016-10-17-Abono-de-familia-vai-abranger-130-mil-criancas-em-2017

“Fim do quociente familiar é bom ou mau para a classe média? Depende da “classe média.” Público, 5 February 2016. Available online at: https://www.publico.pt/2016/02/05/economia/noticia/fim-do-quociente-familiar-e-bom-ou-mau-para-a-classe-media-depende-da-classe-media-1722544

Eurostat, “Crude birth rate.” Available online at: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/tgm/table.do?tab=table&init=1&plugin=1&pcode=tps00112&language=en

“Portugal tem a segunda taxa de natalidade mais baixa da União Europeia,” Expresso, 8 July 2016. Available online at: http://expresso.sapo.pt/sociedade/2016-07-08-Portugal-tem-a-segunda-taxa-de-natalidade-mais-baixa-da-Uniao-Europeia

Pensions

#34

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 most closely scrutinized aspects of government policy between the 2011 bailout and its end in the spring of 2017. This was one of the main areas in which the government sought to reduce public expenditure. The official retirement age is linked to life expectancy. In 2016, it was increased to 66 years and two months; and further to 66 years and three months in 2017.

Pension policy was a central issue in the 2015 election campaign. A key element in the Socialist Party and Portuguese Communist Party agreement concerned pensions. Consequently, a major change introduced by the Costa government has been an increase in the value of pensions. In a public statement on 12 April 2017 Costa promised that the new pension policy would be implemented in August 2017, guaranteeing the provision of pensions sufficient to allow all those over 65 to live a decent life, and allowing all those who began work between 12 and 14 years of age to retire at the age of 60. It remains to be seen whether this promise will be realized.

Integration

#14

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
8
In previous SGI reporting periods, we noted that the economic crisis has 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.

Portugal is also receiving refugees currently entering the European Union as part of the refugee resettlement program. Between December 2015 and October 2017, Portugal took in 1,511 refugees, the fifth-highest such figure within the EU resettlement program. However, almost half of these individuals had left Portugal by October 2017. Some of whose who remained have complained of excessive bureaucracy and inadequate organization of refugee support.

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

“Imigrantes em Portugal diminuíram 1,6% em 2015.” Jornal de Negócios, 23 June 2016. Available online at: http://www.jornaldenegocios.pt/economia/mundo/detalhe/imigrantes_em_portugal_diminuiram_16_em_2015

“Portugal disponível para receber no total 10 mil refugiados,” Diário de Notícias, 19 February 2016, Available online at: http://www.dn.pt/portugal/interior/portugal-disponivel-para-receber-no-total-10-mil-refugiados-5038142.html

“Portugal recebe o 2.º maior número de refugiados recolocados,” Público, 15 June 2016. Available online at: https://www.publico.pt/2016/06/15/sociedade/noticia/portugal-recebe-o-2-maior-numero-de-refugiados-recolocados-1735185

Diário de Notícias (2017), “Número de estrangeiros a viver em Portugal inverte tendência e aumenta 2,3%,” 24/7/2017, available online at: https://www.dn.pt/lusa/interior/numero-de-estrangeiros-a-viver-em-portugal-inverte-tendencia-e-aumenta-23-8658418.html

Ana Dias Cordeiro (2017), “Quase metade dos 1500 refugiados que chegaram já deixou Portugal,” Público online – 16/10/2017, available online at: https://www.publico.pt/2017/10/16/sociedade/noticia/mais-de-metade-dos-1500-refugiados-que-chegaram-ja-deixou-portugal-1788767

Diário de Notícias (2017), “Portugal acolheu até agora 1435 refugiados,” 20/9/2017, available online at: https://www.dn.pt/portugal/interior/portugal-acolheu-ate-agora-1435-refugiados-mais-100-chegam-em-breve—ministro-adjunto-8785876.html

Safe Living

#19

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.
Safe Living Conditions
7
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 fell 7.1% in 2016 relative to 2015, with violent crime declining by 11.6% 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, Turkey, and so on. Whether this is due to effective intelligence gathering and policing is unclear.

This pattern is consistent with that found in other surveys. In the Eurobarometer survey on the issue of internal security published in November 2011, Portuguese respondents indicated a degree of concern about terrorism, petty crime, cybercrime and religious extremism that was lower than the EU average. A 2015 Eurobarometer survey indicated that that the proportion of respondents who believed terrorism was a challenge to national security had increased to 54%, though this remains far below the EU average of 65%.

However, it must be noted that in June 2017, a massive amount of arms and ammunition, including grenades, were stolen from the military arsenal at Tancos. Although the equipment was recovered in October 2017 thanks to an anonymous tip, military and civilian officials alike lost credibility through their poor handling of this serious situation. Their behavior in this important event does not bode well for responses should there be attempts by terrorists to attack sites in Portugal.

The other noteworthy aspect is the failure of civil-protection services during the waves of forest fires in 2017. More than 100 people died as a result of fires in June and October 2017, which also extensively damaged property across the country. An independent report on the June fires, which caused more than 60 deaths, highlighted a number of significant failures and a lack of coordination on the part of civil-protection structures, all of which contributed to the unprecedented number of fatalities. By all accounts, many of these failures were repeated in the October fires that caused some 50 deaths.

Citations:
Special Eurobarometer 371, “Internal Security. European Commission, Brussels. Available at http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/index_en.htm





Special Eurobarometer 432 ” Europeans’ Attitudes Towards Security,” European Commission April 2015. Available at
http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/index_en.htm

Sistema de Segurança Interna,“Relatório Anual de Segurança Interna 2015,” available online at: http://www.ansr.pt/InstrumentosDeGestao/Documents/Relat%C3%B3rio%20Anual%20de%20Seguran%C3%A7a%20Interna%20(RASI)/RASI%202015.pdf

Sistema de Segurança Interna,“Relatório Anual de Segurança Interna 2016,” available online at: http://www.ansr.pt/InstrumentosDeGestao/Documents/Relat%C3%B3rio%20Anual%20de%20Seguran%C3%A7a%20Interna%20(RASI)/RASI%202016.pdf

Comissão Técnica Independente (2017), Relatório aos incêndios entre 17 e 24 de junho 2017. Available online at: https://static.publico.pt/DOCS/RelatorioPedrogaoOut2017.pdf

Global Inequalities

#29

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.

While it represents public opinion, and has nothing to do with the commitment of resources, the Special Eurobarometer 455 of April 2017 indicates that the Portuguese place a very high importance on “tackling poverty in developing countries,” with 76% of respondents seeing this as an important EU task, but just 51% seeing it as a task for the government of Portugal. The first figure was considerably above the EU mean of 68%, while the latter represented the EU mean for opinions about individual governments

Citations:
The European Commission, Special Eurobarometer 455 “EU Citizen’s views on development, cooperation and aid. April 2017.
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