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From an agrarian society to a knowledge economy : Portugal, 1950-2010


  • Santos Pereira, Álvaro
  • Lains, Pedro


This paper surveys the main features of Portuguese economic growth in the last half century, with a particular emphasis on the period after the return to democracy in 1974. It shows that significant structural change and capital deepening were the chief sources of growth in the Portuguese economy until the mid 1970s. From then onwards, human capital accumulation and productivity growth were the main reasons behind Portugal’s economic fortunes. Growth declined between these two phases, as in the rest of Europe. In Portugal, it slowed further after 1990. After surveying the main causes of the slowdown of the Portuguese economy in the last decade, Portugal’s main human capital indicators are compared to other European and OECD economies. While Portugal has made a remarkable transition from an agrarian society to an industry- and service-based economy, the country still has not been able to successfully move on to a knowledge-based economy. Such a transition, however, is instrumental to spur economic growth on and to improve productivity.

Suggested Citation

  • Santos Pereira, Álvaro & Lains, Pedro, 2010. "From an agrarian society to a knowledge economy : Portugal, 1950-2010," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wp10-09, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
  • Handle: RePEc:cte:whrepe:wp10-09

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lessmann, Christian, 2014. "Spatial inequality and development — Is there an inverted-U relationship?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 35-51.
    2. Frank Geary & Tom Stark, 2002. "Examining Ireland"s Post--famine Economic Growth Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 919-935, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. João Sousa Andrade & Adelaide Duarte, 2011. "The Fundamentals of the Portuguese Crisis," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 58(2), pages 195-218, June.
    2. Adelaide Duarte & Marta Simões & João Sousa Andrade, 2013. "Productivity Growth and Convergence: Portugal in the EU 1986-2009," GEMF Working Papers 2013-10, GEMF, Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra.
    3. Gaspar, João & Pina, Gilson & Simões, Marta, 2014. "Agriculture in Portugal: linkages with industry and services," Revue d'Etudes en Agriculture et Environnement, Editions NecPlus, vol. 95(04), pages 437-471, December.
    4. Marta Simões & João Sousa Andrade & Adelaide Duarte, 2012. "Convergence and Growth: Portugal in the EU 1986-2010," GEMF Working Papers 2012-13, GEMF, Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra.
    5. João Sousa Andrade & Adelaide Duarte & Marta Simões, 2014. "A Quantile Regression Analysis of Growth and Convergence in the EU: Potential Implications for Portugal," Notas Económicas, Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra, issue 39, pages 48-72, June.

    More about this item


    Economic growth;

    JEL classification:

    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe

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