Portugal “has more millionaires than Saudi Arabia” but quality of life is suffering

In a series of interpretations of the same report, Portugal is seen both as having “more millionaires than Saudi Arabia” and a ‘state of wealth’ that is effectively going backwards.

At the same time, another study on “quality of life” illustrates the Poortuguese – a race that works longer hours, earns less and faces a higher than average risk of being made redundant.

How can such conflicting information be released on the same day?

The answer is in the small print.

The country may have “more millionaires than Saudi Arabia” (51,000 in Portugal as opposed to less than 50,000 Saudis) but it only has a handful of “super-rich” – the well-known names of cork billionaire Américo Amorim and shopping mall supremos Alexandre Soares dos Santos da Jerónimo Martins and Belmiro de Azevedo – whereas Saudi has oodles more.

Much more to the point is the fact that while global wealth has been increasing at a rhythm of 2% per year since the beginning of the millennium, Portugal’s tendency has been quite the opposite.

Quoting from the same Global Wealth Report as the one that led Observador to enthuse “Portugal has more millionaires than Saudi Arabia”, Público explains that Portugal’s wealth has been contracting by around 0.4% per year since 2000 – with only Turkey and Egypt showing worse results.

“The study refers to the presence of European countries among the worst 10 performers,” adds Público archly, “which suggests the eurozone has not come out well”.

Confirming this is the OECD report on quality of life in developed countries.

RTP lunchtime news reported: “Portugal stands out for the worst reasons.”

Families’ disposable income is “very much below” the European average and has shrunk by 9% in the years between 2009-2014. Children have been most penalised, said the broadcast, with 15% living with at least one parent who is long-term unemployed.

“It is no surprise that Portugal is the second country whose citizens are most dissatisfied with their quality of life,” Jornal da Tarde added.

But it is not all downhill: there are more adults with educational qualifications than ever before, more houses with basic sanitation, and air quality is excellent.

In fact, it is the only area where Portugal has been ranked “above the European average”.

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