Portugal is a country with a population of approximately ten and a half million (INE, 2006a), and it is located on the Iberian Peninsula in Southern Europe. It is a relatively young democracy, given that the dictatorial regime was overthrown by a bloodless coup only a little over 30 years ago. Since the restoration of the democratic regime in the mid 1970s, the nation has undergone several substantial socio-economic, demographic, and cultural changes in a relatively short period of time.
With respect to demographics, Portuguese society has witnessed many changes in the age distribution of the population, as well as in the migrant composition. The most significant change is evident in the proportion of the population aged 14 and below, and the proportion of the population aged 65 and above. Between 1960 and 2001, there was a decrease of about 3% in the youth segment, while the senior citizen population almost tripled its proportion in the 1970s (DECP, 2002). This population increase in the oldest segment of the population has put a great strain on the working-age population that is showing no signs of improvement. With the integration of women in the workforce, an increase in the divorce rate, and a decrease in the marriage rate, among other factors, the birth rate in Portugal has steadily decreased and is today among the lowest in Europe (10.4%). The number of marital unions fell by about 25% in 10 years, sliding from about 65,000 in 1995 to about 49,000 in 2005. On the other hand, the divorce rate nearly doubled during this period, with an increase from 12,000 to about 23,000 (INE, 2006b, 2007). The average family size was about three until the latter half of the 1990s, but in 2005, it dropped to two (INE 2006d).
KeywordsNational Sample Divorce Rate Dictatorial Regime Marriage Rate Drug Dealing
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