Entitled “Demographic Sustainability and Family Policies”, this note aims to analyse family policies in Portugal, reflecting on their potential contributions to the promotion of demographic sustainability – a complex and multidimensional challenge, whose resolution requires the articulation of several public policies.
In 2002, more children were born to mothers of childbearing age in Portugal than in the European Union average. Currently, within the EU framework, the country has a low birth rate and the difference between the number of children the Portuguese would like to have (2.15) and those they actually have (1.4) is high. This phenomenon has been framed and explained in the light of social and economic developments, understood as factors internal or external to families.
These dynamics condition parenthood decisions and, consequently, the public policies that can be mobilised to mitigate them, which cover the areas of work; the articulation between personal, family and professional life; taxation; education; housing; and health, among others. As an example, the relationship between the years of economic crisis and the sharp reduction in the Synthetic Fertility Index should be noted. Despite this, the gap between the national and European average in this indicator has been gradually narrowing since 2014, a favourable evolution resulting from the socio-economic context and the public policies adopted. The document is divided into three parts: it begins by revisiting the main studies already carried out on family policies and outlines the demographic profile of Portuguese families; then it discusses the trajectory and guidelines of the allowance policy; and finally, it analyses the evolution of parental leave policies and early childhood support equipment.