Country Listing

Portugal Table of Contents



Much Portuguese housing was substandard, both in rural and in urban areas. Many rural villages were not electrified even by the early 1990s, and villagers often had to carry water from a common source. The influx of rural migrants to urban centers in recent decades intensified demand on an already inadequate housing supply. Although 60 percent of Portuguese rented their houses (80 percent in Lisbon and Porto), rigid rent control laws in effect between 1948 and 1985 had discouraged the construction of apartments, as did a sluggish bureaucracy. As a result, in the late 1980s an estimated 700,000 illegally constructed dwellings existed in Portugal, 200,000 of which were located in the Lisbon area. Some were built on public or unused private lands. The resulting urban shantytowns (bairros da lata) often lacked electricity, running water, or sewage systems.

In Lisbon's suburbs, gigantic apartment houses were built for the more affluent new city-dwellers, but the supply of decent, affordable housing lagged far behind the demand, estimated at 800,000 dwellings for the entire country. A succession of Portuguese governments recognized this severe housing problem and sought to do something about it. For example, the National Housing Institute planned to build 70,000 dwellings a year during the 1990s, and various programs to help people become homeowners had been put into practice.

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Portugal was long the most understudied country in Western Europe. The authoritarian nature of the Salazar regime made social science research on contemporary issues all but impossible to carry out; Portuguese social sciences also lagged behind. Despite these obstacles, some very good studies were done. Among them were works by Joyce Firstenberg Riegelhaupt in anthropology, Jo„o Baptista Nunes Pereira Neto and Aderito Sedas Nunes in sociology, and Josť Cutileiro's pioneering A Portuguese Rural Society. Harry M. Makler broke new ground in his investigations of Portugal's business elite, as did Massimo Livi Bacci in his demographic study, A Century of Portuguese Fertility.

Social science scholarship has flourished in Portugal since the Revolution of 1974, as specialists there have looked into many unexplored aspects of their society. Readers needing sociological analyses in English will profit from the survey edited by Lawrence S. Graham and Douglas L. Wheeler, In Search of Modern Portugal, and the one edited by Lawrence S. Graham and Harry M. Makler, Contemporary Portugal. Economic and social data are also found in the historical surveys Contemporary Portugal by Richard Alan Hodgson Robinson and Portugal: A Twentieth Century Interpretation by Tom Gallagher.

Among the best political-sociological studies are Nancy Bermeo's The Revolution Within the Revolution, which deals with revolution in the countryside, and Caroline Brettel's Men Who Migrate, Women Who Wait, an excellent study of Portuguese emigration. Thomas C. Bruneau, Victor M.P. Da Rosa, and Alex Macleod provide much useful information in their Portugal in Development. Rainer Eisfeld's "Portugal and Western Europe," in Portugal in the 1980s, edited by Kenneth Maxwell, is also helpful. Finally, Marion Kaplan's 1991 book, The Portuguese: The Land and its People, although not aimed at a scholarly audience, is often highly informative about contemporary Portuguese society. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of January 1993