Reducing Inequality and Poverty in Portugal
OECD Economics Department Working Papers, No. 1258
28 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2016
Date Written: August 21, 2015
Portugal has one of the most unequal income distributions in Europe and poverty levels are high. The economic crisis has halted a long-term gradual decline in both inequality and poverty and the number of poor households is rising, with children and youths being particularly affected. Unemployment is one of the principal reasons why household incomes declined. The tax and benefit system alleviates both inequality and poverty significantly. The tax system is markedly progressive, and recent tax reforms have likely increased this progressivity. Transfer payments, especially non-pension benefits, are reducing inequality and poverty in a fairly efficient way. Nonetheless, a number of adjustments could strengthen the equalising role of the benefit system, which is generally biased towards benefits for elderly people, while families with children should receive more support. The education system should provide more support to students at risk of falling behind to reduce grade-repetition and drop-out rates, while further increasing class sizes would be a reasonable way to generate savings without affecting learning progress much. Scaling up vocational courses and adult education, including in the context of active labour market policies, could improve the capacity of many households to generate income and lead to a more equitable income distribution.
Keywords: tax, pension, wages, distribution, education, transfers
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