Article

Portugal, Social Balance Sheet 2021 - A portrait of the country and of the pandemic

The pandemic and the labour market: what we know one year later

Bruno P. Carvalho, Universidade Carlos III de Madrid, Departamento de Economia, e ECARES (ULB)
Mariana Esteves, Nova School of Business and Economics
Susana Peralta, Nova School of Business and Economics
Report funded by the Social Equity Initiative

“Portugal, Social Balance Sheet” is an annual report that analyses poverty and social exclusion in Portugal. This year’s report uses the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2020, which was implemented at the beginning of 2020, i.e., it contains information about income and labour conditions in 2019, before the covid-19 pandemic. We complement it with provisional data from the 2021 wave, released by Statistics Portugal. We dedicate one section to children and another to older adults, two groups that are especially vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion. We also use several data sources to analyse the impact of the pandemic crisis on health, education, and the labour market.
Key points
  • 1
       The poverty rate after social transfers was 16.2% in 2019; provisional data from Statistics Portugal indicates that it increased to 18.4% in 2020.
  • 2
       The material deprivation rate in 2020 was 13.5% (1.6 percentage points lower than in 2019).
  • 3
       In 2019, the north of the country became the mainland region with the highest at-risk-of-poverty rate (18.1%) and the highest rate of material deprivation (6.7%).
  • 4
       School closures led to a loss of skills compared to 2019 and 2018. The results are more severe among students from more disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.
  • 5
       Women with children worked, on average, 1.2 hours less per week between the 1st trimesters of 2021 and 2019.

After getting relatively worse during the sovereign debt crisis (2011 and 2014), most indicators improved. Nonetheless, in 2018, Portugal was still above the European Union (EU) average for the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate, the at-risk-of-poverty rate, and the material deprivation rate. Only in 2019 did Portugal perform better than the EU average for these indicators. We highlight the at-risk-of-poverty rate, which in 2019 was below the EU average by 0.9 percentage points (16.2% vs. 17.1%). The unavailability of data precludes us from analysing whether this relative improvement was kept in 2020, despite the increase in the poverty rate to 18.4%. Another ingredient of the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate is the share of households with low work intensity, which reached 5.2% in 2020, up from 5.1% in 2019.

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