Portugal’s fertility rate — the average number of children in the population for every woman of child-bearing age — has been falling, from three in 1970 to 1.21 in 2013. This is the lowest level in Europe, with only South Korea having a lower rate among the 34 mostly wealthy nations in the OECD.
“The high rate of youth employment and a precarious job market are critical factors in deterring young couples from having children,” says Maria Filomena Mendes, a sociology professor and president of the Portuguese Demographic Association. “At the same time, many young people are emigrating at an age when they might otherwise have been starting families in Portugal.”It is not clear that Portugal will flourish in the modern environment. Indeed, it has been a source of emigration for a long time. Here in San Diego the Portuguese fishing community has a long and rich history (along with immigrant Italian fisherman), but that was based on people leaving Portugal in search of a life elsewhere. Nothing really seems to have changed and the FT article does not offer any real hope for improvements in the economy that would alter the demographic decisions that Portuguese have been making for a long time--have fewer kids and move somewhere else. The idea that more children will solve the problem is a bit ephemeral and it is clear that the average person in Portugal doesn't buy that argument.