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indicator value unit
Population 10.6 mil.
Visitors per year 6.8 mil.
Renewable energy 21.22 %

How’s Life?

Portugal has made significant progress over the last few years in modernising its economy and improving the living standards of its citizens, however the global financial crisis has surely weakened its growth. Portugal performs only moderately well in overall measures of well-being, as it ranks lower or close to the average in a large number of topics in the Better Life Index.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Portugal, the average household net-adjusted disposable income is 19 366 USD a year, less than the OECD average of 23 047 USD a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn six times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, around 64% of people aged 15 to 64 in Portugal have a paid job, close to the OECD employment average of 66%. Some 68% of men are in paid work, compared with 60% of women. People in Portugal work 1 711 hours a year, slightly less than the OECD average of 1 776 hours. Around 9% of employees work very long hours, in line with the OECD average, with 12% of men working very long hours compared with just 5% for women.

Having a good education is an important requisite for finding a job. In Portugal, 32% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, much lower than the OECD average of 74% and the lowest rate amongst OECD countries. This is truer of women than men, as 29% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 35% of women. In terms of the quality of the educational system, the average student scored 490 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This score is slightly lower than the OECD average of 497. On average in Portugal, girls outperformed boys by 10 points, slightly more than the average OECD gap of 9 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Portugal is almost 81 years, one year above the OECD average. Life expectancy for women is 84 years, compared with 78 for men. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 20 micrograms per cubic meter, close to the OECD average of 21 micrograms per cubic meter. Portugal does well in terms of water quality, as 86% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, slightly more than the average OECD level of 84%.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a moderate sense of community and level of civic participation in Portugal, where 85% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, less than the OECD average of 90%. Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 58% during recent elections, lower than the 72% OECD average. Social and economic status can affect voting rates; voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is 63% and for the bottom 20% it is 56%. This 7 percentage point difference is lower than the OECD average difference of 12 percentage points and suggests there is broad social inclusion in Portugal’s democratic institutions.

In general, 71% of people in Portugal say they have more positive experiences in an average day (feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment, etc) than negative ones (pain, worry, sadness, boredom, etc), below the OECD average of 80%.


OECD in Action

Portugal: Reforming the State to promote growth

Despite the hardships brought about by the crisis, Portugal is now faced with a unique opportunity to modernise its economy, as well as building a fairer, more cohesive society and a more efficient, dynamic public administration. Drawing on the experience of OECD member countries, the analysis and advice reported in this document aim to provide Portuguese policy makers not only with a compass but also with a policy map of a brighter future.

Read this report

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Portugal in Detail