“Persons with Disabilities in Portugal – Human Rights Indicators 2021”
Between 2011 and 2021 registered unemployment increased by 63.1% in women with disabilities and 9.8% in men with disabilities
The results of the report "Persons with Disabilities in Portugal - Human Rights Indicators 2021" (5th edition) by the Disability and Human Rights Observatory (ODDH/ISCSP-ULisboa), publicly released at the Colloquium "The Lens of Human Rights in Social Research in Disability: Indicators and Processes", at ISCSP-ULisboa, on April 7th, 2022, in Lisbon, shows that in the last 10 years (between 2011 and 2021) unemployment registered in the population with disability in Portugal (mainland) increased by 30.5%, growth being much more pronounced in women (+63.1%) than in men with disabilities (+9.8%). On the contrary, in the same period, this indicator decreased in the Portuguese population (-43.2%), both in men (-47.7%) and in women (-39.2%).
Regarding work and employment, if we only analyze the period between 2016 and 2019, the overall trend observed in the registered unemployment of the population with disabilities was an improvement: -8.8%. However, with the pandemic crisis, there was a significant increase: +11.6% in 2020, and +1.2% in 2021 (contrasting with the decrease observed in 2021 in the general population: -12.8%). In short, the effects of the pandemic crisis were more serious on the employability of people with disabilities, registering, in 2021, absolute values of unemployment never before verified (N=13 583).
The analysis of data disaggregated by sex also shows that, in 2021, there were still more men (51.5%) than women (48.5%) with disabilities registered as unemployed - contrary to the pattern observed in the general population -, although the disparity between the two has increased from 22.4 percentage points in 2011 to 3.1 percentage points in 2021, which is due to the decrease in men with disabilities registered as unemployed and, at the same time, to the increase in women with disabilities registered as unemployed.
Image 15 - Evolution of the registered unemployment on persons with disabilities, by sex, 2011-2021 (Portugal mainland)
Since the 'registered unemployment' indicator reflects the number of people who are voluntarily enrolled in the Job Centers (looking for their first job/never worked, or looking for a new job/already worked) and are immediately available to work, the percentage increase in women registered as unemployed could be explained, in part, by greater demand for the services provided by these Centres, but above all, it reflects a greater difficulty on the part of women with disabilities to access the labour market.
This trend, which has been going on for a decade, continued during the pandemic crisis: in December 2021, enrollment in Job Centers was still on the rise (+3.2%), contrary to the downward trend seen in the general population (-12.8%) and also in men with disabilities (-0.6%).
On the other hand, the report reveals that in 2019, in Portugal (mainland), only 0.58% (n = 13,702) of the total human resources of companies with 10 or more workers were people with disabilities, thus, a growth of 7.7% compared to 2018 (+982). In the public sector, in 2020, in Portugal, 2.62% (n = 18 819) of workers in public administrations were disabled, translating into a year-on-year growth of only +1.03% (+192), the lowest since 2014.
Image 20 - Evolution of the number of workers with disabilities in the private sector, by sex, 2016-2019 (Portugal mainland)
Data disaggregated by sex shows that there are more women with disabilities in the public sector (67.3% in 2020) and in the private sector (54% in 2019). However, this data must be read with caution, and it is important to analyze their age distribution. In the case of the private sector, where data regarding the age group is available, it appears that, in 2019, the majority of workers (61.9%) with disabilities were between 45 and 64 years old, 24.9% were between 35 and 44 years old and 3.4% were over 65 years old. On the other hand, only 9.8% (N=1 346) of the workers were 34 years of age or younger, registering a very slight year-on-year growth (+2.5%; +33 workers). This data shows a high concentration of workers with disabilities, especially women, over 45 years of age. Thus, the growth seen in the private sector (+7.7%) may, eventually, not represent an increase in net employment, that is, new hires, but reflect situations of accommodation for people who are already in the workforce and acquire some type of job-related disability (eg. occupational disease or chronic illness related to the ageing process, which tends to affect women more than men).
Image 24 - Evolution of the number of workers with disabilities in the public sector, by sex, 2011-2020 (Portugal)
Taking the year 2019 as a reference – a year in which data of both public and private sectors is available for registered unemployment and beneficiaries of employment and vocational training measures -, it is also verified that there were more people registered in the Job Centers (N= 12,027) than those employed in the private sector (companies with 10 or more workers) with a degree of disability equal to or greater than 60% (N=11,574)
, the necessary requirement for the application of the employment quota for people with disabilities in the private sector (Law No. 4/2019, of 10 January), created in 2019.
Likewise, in 2019, in mainland Portugal, there were more people with disabilities covered by measures and programs promoted by the IEFP (N=37,203) – specific (ex. training) and general (ex. CEI, CEI+) - than jointly employed (N=32 319) in the public (2019; N= 18 617; Portugal) and private sector (2019; N=13 702; mainland Portugal). This data shows the difficulty of people with disabilities to join the labour market.
Image 27 - Poverty or social exclusion risk, by disability and sex, 2020 (+16 years old; Portugal and EU-27;%)
Regarding social protection, the ODDH 2021 report also reveals that, in 2020, in Portugal, households of women with disabilities were the group facing the greatest risk of poverty or social exclusion, although the difference compared to those of men with disabilities was only +2.2 p.p. (26.8% vs. 24.6%). In turn, beneficiaries of the Social Inclusion Benefit registered a growth of 438% between 2017 (N=21,307) and 2020 (N=114,726).
Image 6 - Number of students with special educative needs, graduated, by academic degree, 2016/17-2020-21 (Portugal)
Regarding education, it was found that the number of students with disabilities attending higher education in the 2020/21 academic year increased by 11.7% (n=2,582) compared to the 2019/20 academic year (n=2,311). In 2019/20 there was a total of 632 students with disabilities who graduated, representing a growth of 55.7% (+226) compared to the previous year (n=406) and +108.6% compared to 2016/17 (n = 303).
Finally, regarding discrimination, it should be noted that in 2020, a total of 1023 complaints were filed in Portugal for discrimination based on disability or aggravated health risk, which represents a decrease of about 20% compared to 2019. The theme with the highest incidence of complaints was related to access to health, most likely due to the pandemic crisis.