Social Welfare Programs
Portugal had a fairly elaborate social welfare system,
including programs that provided benefits for the elderly
seriously ill or disabled. However, the benefits paid by
programs were still quite low in the early 1990s, and an
estimated 3 million Portuguese lived below the EC poverty
The programs' benefits were financed by employee and
contributions (roughly 10 and 25 percent, respectively).
the programs were the responsibility of the Ministry of
Employment and Social Security and were administered by
social security centers. The Ministry of Health was
programs concerned with medical care.
As of the early 1990s, men and women could retire at
sixtyfive and sixty-two years of age, respectively, and be
for old-age pensions. Miners were eligible at fifty and
sailors at fifty-five years of age. Benefits ranged from
30 to 80
percent of recent average wages. Permanent disability and
survivor benefits were also paid. Unemployment benefits
paid from ten to thirty months and amounted to 65 percent
earnings, with a maximum of three times the national
of about US$300 a month in the early 1990s.
As of 1991, maternity benefits amounted to 100 percent
mother's pay for a period of three months, one month
two months after the birth. Sickness benefits amounted to
percent of wages for up to 1,095 days; after this period,
benefit was converted to a permanent disability benefit.
Accidents at work were covered by private insurance
employers; payments could amount to two-thirds of basic
Small family allowances were paid to help rear children
they reached the age of fifteen or the age of twenty-five
Data as of January 1993