Portugal fact of the day

by on June 12, 2012 at 12:16 pm in Current Affairs, Education | Permalink

In 2009, only 30 percent of Portuguese adults had completed high school or its equivalent, according to figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Here is more, mostly on the Portuguese response to fiscal consolidation.

Frank June 12, 2012 at 12:23 pm

This seems like truly low-hanging fruit.

Ray Lopez June 12, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Given that Portugal and Greece have roughly the same GDP per capita, I wonder what the high-school graduation rate (different than percentage adult percentage completed but correlated) is for Greece. This below link says “95%” for GR which seems too high, while Portugal is at 65% and the USA at 78%–so no correlation it seems. http://www.occasionalplanet.org/2011/12/21/education-doesnt-always-lead-to-strong-economy-ask-greece/

Phill June 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm

It’s unsurprising if you consider that until 2004? or so high school wasn’t mandatory; when I graduated grade 9 in 2002 I could’ve stopped attending school without any legal consequences.

My grandparents: one is illiterate, another was forced out of school in grade 2, another attended up to grade four – after becoming an adult – and the last one took a “business course” which must’ve left him with 9 or 10 years worth of total formal education. I think it was common in my parent’s generation to stop after grade 6.

They stepped it up by making high school a fairly brutal process – you take a series of nation wide standardize tests that half of people fail on their first try.

Jan June 12, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Are you Canadian?

kiwi dave June 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm

One could argue about how indicative high school graduation rates of general human capital levels, given the differences in curriculum, teacher quality etc.

What I think is more telling is a set of statistics from an OECD study released in 2000 comparing functional literacy among developed countries (http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/24/21/39437980.pdf, see Table 2.2): no less than 48% of Portuguese adults had literacy at the lowest level of five, Level 1, defined by the OECD as “persons with very poor skills, where the individual may, for example, be unable to determine the correct amount of medicine to give a child from information printed on the package.” In other words, the OECD found that almost half of Portuguese adults are functionally illiterate. This compared with 10.5% of Dutch and 20.7% of Americans.

When half of your adult population cannot — for all intents and purposes — read and write, that is going to be a major drag on economic growth.

buddyglass June 12, 2012 at 11:42 pm

I’m surprised the Dutch number is that high. Also that the U.S. number is that low.

Rahul June 14, 2012 at 10:31 am

Is the correlation between income and education stronger in some nations and weaker in others? Any studies on this? Perhaps Portugal’s economy penalized a lack of education less than other nations?

Rahul June 14, 2012 at 10:47 am

Gapminder yields an interesting statistic: At Portugal’s wealth level there’s only one other country less educated than Portugal: Oman. Conversely, at Portugal’s education level there’s only one other country wealthier than it: Kuwait.

Apparently Portugal had indeed somehow managed prosperity without education. Oman and Kuwait had their oil at least. What did Portugal have?


[ I used GDP-per-capita as a surrogate for wealth and median years of male schooling as a surrogate for education. Not that these are the best metrics but the ones most easily chartable on Gapminder. ]

Tim Worstall June 13, 2012 at 2:35 am

When I bought a cottage in the Algarve I was very surprised indeed to find that the seller (a woman of about 65) signed the contract with her thumb print.

She was entirely illiterate: and pretty much innumerate as well. Did not know the post box number of her own house.

It’s still normal for a contract, at the notary’s office, to be read aloud…I assume because of the past prevalance of such illiteracy.

Asking around I found that for a rural woman of that generation (born, say, 1940, 1950) such profound illitieracy/numeracy was not anything unusual. Not that all were, but it was nothing unusual.

Stefan June 13, 2012 at 3:27 am

Hi – reading contracts out loud is not necessarily connected to perceived/assumed literacy of the associated parties. Even in Germany, it is *somewhere* in the law (sorry, I am not a lawyer), but I remember are large financial transaction (multi-bn), where the contract had to be read out loud and each party had to send a representative to this couple-of-hours-show.

Stefan June 13, 2012 at 3:31 am

Here it is – several types of contracts require a notarial act, and this by definition of the notarial act requires reading the contract out loud (courtesy of Wikipedia.de) – most importantly to your experience in Portugal, the list includes specific real estate transactions:

Beurkundungspflichtige Rechtsgeschäfte sind der Grundstückskaufvertrag (§ 311a BGB), die Verpflichtung zur vollständigen Vermögensübertragung (§ 311b Abs. 3 BGB), das Schenkungsversprechen (§ 518 Abs. 1 Satz 1 BGB), der Ehevertrag (§ 1410 BGB), Verfügung über einen Erbteil (§ 2033 BGB), öffentliches Testament (§ 2232 BGB), Erbvertrag (§ 2276 BGB), Erbverzichtsvertrag (§ 2348 BGB), der Erbschaftskauf (§ 2371 BGB) oder die Abtretung / Verpfändung von Gesellschaftsanteilen an einer GmbH (§ 15 Abs. 3 GmbHG; hierin ist nur die Abtretung geregelt). Auch einige gesellschaftsrechtliche Verträge (Gründung der AG nach § 23 Abs. 1 AktG, GmbH nach § 2 GmbHG; Unternehmensverträge gemäß § 53 Abs. 2 Satz 1 GmbHG oder Beschlüsse der Hauptversammlung einer AG nach § 130 Abs. 1 AktG) sind notariell zu beurkunden.

Luis Pedro Coelho June 13, 2012 at 7:32 am

For adults, 15-64, the rate is 35% (up from ~20% 10 years ago). For the >65 cohorts, rates are 7%. (I was checking pordata.pt, which does not break it down further, but I remember that for the 20-30 cohorts, rates are near the European average).

It is in the younger, highly educated, cohort that unemployment is higher.

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