Portugal does not come out of the new statistics on longevity very well, when compared with the rest of Europe: The average life expectancy for men is 71.8 years and for women, it is 78.9 in Portugal, whereas in the European Union, the average is 75 for men and 80 for women. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for the most deaths both in Portugal and in western Europe in general. In Portugal, however, accidents (road and at work) are responsible for an incredible 34.2% of deaths per annum. This is particularly serious if it is remembered that in the last twenty years, the number of young people below 15 years of age has fallen from 25% of the population to 16.9%. 15% of the population in Portugal is over 65 years of age. With this ageing population, the need for immigrants is becoming greater and greater. The Portuguese government has decided to legalise the new immigrants (many of whom were working illegally in Portugal). According to statistics released recently, 43% of Portugal’s immigrants now come from CIS countries, namely Moldavia, Ukraine and Russia. To legalise themselves, the new immigrants have to produce a clean criminal record from their country of origin and register in the respective Criminal Registry Office in Lisbon. After this they have to go to the General Direction of Foreigners and Frontiers and produce an offer for work (which is not a work contract). This offer for work can be obtained from any Portuguese employer. Immigrants from the CIS are generally very well respected in Portugal among the population but working conditions are hard. It should be remembered that Portugal is the poorest country in the EU. However, living conditions are easy since Portugal has the best weather in Europe and eating and drinking are the main national pastime. Regarding remuneration, salaries are below the rest of the EU (average) but unlike in the rest of the EU, a person can live well in Portugal on less money. To give an idea of salaries for unqualified work, for women, domestic service in a private house (all food and accommodation included) pays around 420 USD per month. Unqualified labour for men (civil construction) is paid at around 700 USD per month. Accommodation can be arranged at 140 USD per month and living expenses should be roughly the same, leaving a net “profit” of 420 USD.
TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.RU LISBON
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