For over a generation of families, fertility rates in Portugal have been falling. Today, only one other OECD country has a lower fertility rate (Korea). Sustainable fertility is important to ensure aging populations don’t threaten Portugal’s welfare systems and future productivity.
In reality, the Portuguese problem is not that families have no children, but rather families not having more than one child. Childlessness is low in Portugal, less than one in ten women aged 49+ have no children, but around half of all Portuguese families are one-child families. To improve fertility rates, Portuguese families need more support when caring for young children.
Recent parental leave reform has helped both mothers and fathers to spend more time with their newborns, as well as promoting gender equity through financial incentives to share parental leave. Pre-school childcare enrolment in Portugal has tripled in the last decade, it now stands at around 65% (OECD average is 58.2%).
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