- Created on Monday, 05 November 2012 19:27
The economic crisis in Portugal has depressed the birth rate which in the long term will lead to an ageing population without the workforce to support them into an increasing long old age.
On a 2007 visit to the district of Guarda by the President of the Republic, Cavaco Silva, he asked "what must be done so that more children are born in Portugal?"
The answer was pretty obvious but young couples still are not prepared to put in the effort to start or extend families when faced with Portugal’s worsening economic situation.
For the second time in recent years, the number of births in the country has dropped below the 100,000 mark and 2012 looks like it will be the year with the lowest birth rate since records began.
Laura Vilarinho, programme director of the National Early Diagnosis screening service, said that by September only 67,000 tests had been done, 6,500 fewer tests than in the same period last year, making the predictions of a record low birth rate this year a probability.
Numbers from this screening programme are not definitive, those will come from the National Institute of Statistics, but as the screening tests are performed between the third and sixth day of a baby's life it offers an accurate picture of the problem. The data this year, said Vilarinho, indicates the number of births may not even reach 90,000. In 2011 the official figure was 97,200 – the first year in recent times when the figure dropped below 100,000.
With fewer and fewer babies growing up to populate the country, many rural areas will become deserted as the old die.
"A country without children is a nation without a future," said the President, in November 2007.
Last year, Portugal’s population decreased by 5,986 people, the balance between those who died and those who were born.
This year the population will have decreased at a faster rate as many young unemployed people have left to seek work outside the country, taking their education and skills to benefit other economies.