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50% of Portuguese live below the poverty line

The first year of the pandemic affected all European countries, but had a more negative impact on Portugal and the Portuguese people. On October 17, the world celebrates the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. In Portugal, 50% of the population live below the poverty line. 

In fact, you have to go back to 2014, the year in which the Troika's third intervention in the country came to an end, to find such a significant increase in the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion.

50% of Portuguese live below the poverty line 

Poverty in Portugal, which had been on an upward trend since 2017, has continued after two years of pandemic and with the arrival of war in Europe, the situation has even worsened and the forecast is that it will get even worse.

This new global crisis is hitting the most vulnerable sections of society particularly hard, accelerating the deterioration of an already precarious situation. Portugal, which has already recorded a worrying trend in terms of increasing poverty, has also been affected by the current panorama, which not only makes it difficult to improve this situation, but also makes it worse, warns the company. Pordata in a study published Monday.

To reach these conclusions, data such as "age, family, work or daily life of citizens" were analyzed to understand that three groups are most affected: 

  • families with children; 
  • the unemployed; 
  • people over 65 years of age.

Luísa Loura, director of Pordata, revealed more concrete data on television last night. Portugal has a poor population, based on income alone - i.e. not counting social benefits, of around 4.4 million people, a figure which she says falls to around 1.9 million if social benefits such as the "Rendimento Social de Inserção (RSI)" are taken into account.

That's almost half of Portugal's population. If we take a closer look : 40 % households earned in 2020, according to Pordata data around €833 per month. 

As for the unemployed, 2020 saw a reversal in the trend. While since 2014, the number of people registered with Pôle emploi had been falling, the arrival of the pandemic saw an increase of 22.5% compared with 2019. And last year, not only was there no decline, but it increased by around 23 % compared with the pre-pandemic period.

Although with a less expressive, but significant increase for the overall scenario, in 2021 there are more people receiving the social insertion income (RSI), representing an increase of 1.6% compared to 2020. This is a trend that has not been seen since 2012, which means that although the figures are currently a long way from those of ten years ago, the downward trend recorded since then was interrupted last year.

For the elderly (over 65), in 2021 there were an additional 1.6 million Social Security pensioners living on pensions below the national minimum wage (665 euros).

Can the Portuguese cope with winter?

Going back to 2020, Portugal was one of the world's leading the lowest ranked. It was second among the 27 European Union countries in terms of the number of people living in housing in poor condition (25 %), and fifth in terms of cold (16 %). A year later, in 2021, the picture remained the same.

This number rises slightly if we add the people who, despite income and social benefits, remain above the poverty line, but who then lack the material conditions, housing, food, heating in their homes, this number rises to around 400,000 people taking into account the 1.9 billion", Luísa Loura points out.

But there is one statistic where Portugal stands out on the positive side: food deprivation. We are the second country among the 27 where more poor people manage to secure a meal of meat, fish or vegetarian equivalent every other day (6% do not).

Inflation: a phenomenon that has lasted for several years

Pordata shows in figures what parties on the left and right have criticized about the draft state budget (OE) for 2023. In other words, the inflation rate is rising, but the national minimum wage, as well as old-age and disability pensions, are not keeping pace.

But this is nothing new. From 1978, the year from which records are available, to the present day, counting the "main inflation peaks in 1984 (28.5% and the year of the Troika intervention in Portugal) and 1990 (13.6%)", there are "several periods when its increase has been lower than the rise in inflation".

In the current situation, with inflation at 9.3 % (INE data for September), i.e. at the 1992 level (9.6 %), the loss of purchasing power for minimum wage beneficiaries is real.

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