Policy Notes

Hugo de Almeida Vilares

2015, Banco de Portugal Economic Studies

Unionism is in a profound crisis of alienation between trade unions and workers, which seriously compromises their legitimacy, and raises the reasonable doubt about their incentives. The reflection about ways to reverse this trend is then justified. If one can disagree on the chosen paths, the need to reflect causes little controversy. In this text, it is proposed that trade unions drop their monopoly to bargain and actively interconnect with workers councils in order to represent employees in a flexible manner in more firms. Furthermore, they should provide more useful services, and they may play a more relevant national role, necessarily founded in an enhanced representativeness.

Manuel Coutinho Pereira, Hugo de Almeida Vilares

2014, Banco de Portugal Economic Bulletin

This article examines the main developments of the pharmaceutical market in Portugal over the last decade. There has been a growth in the quantities traded and a reduction in retail prices, resulting from an intense legislative intervention. This price reduction has stalled expenditure on outpatient medicines, making it even possible some reduction in the last years. Such an evolution reflects a cutback in the economic rents of market agents, benefiting the National Health Service. The enhanced competition in the market segments open to generic drugs has contributed importantly to this outcome. The estimation of a demand function for pharmaceutical drugs indicates a relatively reduced price-sensitivity of quantities consumed, at the upper bound of the estimates in several studies for other countries. Furthermore, it is inferred that the resistance to the prescription of generics is waning as, holding constant other factors, prescribers already induce consumers to preferably acquire generics. In the future, a further increase in the penetration of generics is likely to take place by the extension of the range of active ingredients covered by them.

Pedro Portugal, Hugo de Almeida Vilares

2013, Banco de Portugal Economic Bulletin

The influence of trade unions’ activity in the Portuguese labor market is reviewed, resorting to the information provided by around 200 000 firms on the number of unionized workers. In particular, the membership determinants are studied; the workers’ wage benefit in more unionized firms is estimated; and the wages’ compositional changes, due to different levels of firm’s unionization, are revealed.As in other developed countries, Portugal has recorded a steady erosion of the union representation. For 2010, the estimate of the union density in the private sector of the economy is around 11 percent. The union presence is more important in sizeable firms, when the company’s equity is public, and in industries sheltered from competition. The unionized workers benefit from a substantial wage premium. In more unionized firms, this gap reaches levels above 30 percent, in contrast with non-unionized firms, with the same observed characteristics, that work in the same industry and region.