There is new controversy surrounding the golden visa programme I Portugal with the Economic and Social Council (CES) defending the end of the programme, which changed its rules at the beginning of the year, claiming that it is contributing to the decrease in the birth rate.

This claim has been made according to the CES because it causes a kind of snowball effect, that is, house prices rise and young adults are unable to leave their parents' house, thus not being able to start a family. For the Portuguese Association of Real Estate Developers and Investors (APPII), this is a non-issue, as the “birth rate drop has nothing to do with this type of programme”.

Cited by Público, sociologist Ana Drago, who coordinated the opinion approved by the CES plenary, said that “Portugal is experiencing increases in housing prices above any of the eurozone economies and is, in a group of more than 40 countries, among those with the highest ratio between price and income, that is, where prices are furthest from the average income”.

“This shows that these prices are responding to a demand that has nothing to do with residents, but with foreigners, namely through golden visas and tax benefits granted to non-habitual residents. We know that the housing market sector has focused on the so-called luxury renovation and tourist accommodation and especially in metropolitan areas and this has created added difficulties for young couples”, added the official.

Opposing view

In response, the APPII considers that “these issues are not related at all” and that “it was not the golden visa programme that inflated the price of housing”.

“The price of housing will continue to worsen, with or without this type of programme, as we continue without truly solving the main reasons that lead to the increase in property prices”, the association said in a statement, enumerating some reasons that have contributed to the rise in prices – namely the fact that legislation is inadequate and obsolete, that taxation is high, that there are few buildings or land at prices compatible with the construction of affordable housing and that there are still delays in licensing.

The APPII adds that “the places where housing prices rose the most were precisely where there is no record of acquisitions for the Golden Visa programme, such as Aveiro, Amadora, Viana do Castelo, etc.”

In conclusion, the entity chaired by Hugo Santos Ferreira states that “the drop in birth rates has nothing to do with this type of programme”, young people postpone leaving their parents' house more and more for other reasons”.