State of the Environment Report

Macroeconomic Scenarios


The scenarios presented in this document are an update to the macroeconomic scenarios presented in the State of the Environment Report 2015 (APA, 2015), hereinafter referred to as REA 2015.

It should be noted that the figures presented are not meant to be forecasts, and merely represent possible patterns for the development of the economy. Table 2 presents two scenarios (High and Low) for the possible evolution of the Portuguese economy over the 2050 horizon with regard to some macroeconomic variables, starting in the year 2015, the last for which there are observed values for the National Accounts (although still in a draft version). The international framework scenarios (High and Low) for the world's and EU's GDP were also reviewed (Table 1). The scenario period was divided into three sub-periods (2016-2020, 2021-2030 and 2031-2050), taking into account, inter alia, the time horizon of several strategic plans for Portugal (particularly in the field of the Environment), as well as the targets established as part of the Green Growth Commitment (MAOTE, 2015).

These scenarios serve to establish the macroeconomic framework for environmental plans to be implemented by the APA, so it was decided to deliberately outline two relatively contrasting scenarios, none of which are too pessimistic. In fact, it was considered more prudent to "exaggerate" in the assumptions for economic growth, as generally, ceteris paribus, environmental risks are higher in scenarios of greater growth (greater consumption of natural resources, increased waste generation and CO2 emissions). It should be noted, however, that these risks can be mitigated by implementing resource efficiency policies, which allow dissociating economic growth from material consumption and waste generation.

The scenarios published herein for Portugal contain several differences from those presented in REA 2015, most notably the following:

  • Changing of the starting point for the scenarios (2015 instead of 2014), as it was found that the GDP growth in 2015 (preliminary figures) was identical to that forecasted for the "High" scenario of REA 2015 (+1.6%), whereas the rate of change observed for private consumption was the average of the two scenarios presented for that year (+2.6%);
  • A slightly downward revision of the GDP and Private Consumption growth rates in the "High" scenario, taking into account the similar changes in the forecasts for the world, European and Portuguese economies, as issued by the different international and national institutions.

1. International Scenarios

As for Portugal, two scenarios (High and Low) are considered for the world and EU-28 GDP. These were prepared taking into account the short-/medium-term forecasts issued by the IMF (WEO, October 2016) and the EIU (September 2016), the short-term forecasts issued by OECD (21 September 2016), the World Bank (June 2016) and the European Commission (Spring 2016), as well as the long-term scenarios prepared by the European Commission (The 2015 Ageing Report) and EIU (2015). The average rates of change observed for the 2001-2015 period were obtained from the databases maintained by the IMF (WEO, October 2016), for the world, and Eurostat (September 2016), for the EU.

Table 1. International Scenarios for GDP

Annual average rates of changes in volume

  Observed Low Scenario High Scenario
  2001-15 2016-20 2021-30 2031-50 2016-20 2021-30 2031-50
EU 28 1,3% 1,2% 1,2% 1,0% 2,0% 2,0% 1,8%
World 3,8% 3,0% 3,0% 2,0% 3,8% 3,8% 3,2%

Note (a) Sources for observed rates of change in 2001-2015: EU 28: Eurostat (data extracted on 27/9/2016); World: IMF, World Economic Outlook Database (October 2016);

2. Scenarios for Portugal

For Portugal, scenarios were prepared for the following variables, for the 2050 horizon:

  • Resident population (annual average);
  • Gross Domestic Product at market prices;
  • Private Consumption by residents (households + non-profit institutions serving households);
  • Consumption by Residents outside the economic territory;
  • Consumption by Non-Residents within the economic territory;
  • Private consumption within the economic territory.

2.1 Resident population

The Resident Population figures for 2000 to 2015 came from Statistics Portugal (2016a and previous Demographic Statistics).

The resident population (annual average) for each year t corresponds to the arithmetic average of the figures estimated for the resident population on 31 December of years t-1 and t.

The values for 2016 onward were obtained from annual hypotheses for the migratory balance and for the natural growth rate of the population, which took into account the forecasts on the resident population published by Statistics Portugal (INE) on 28/3/2014 (INE, 2014), as well as the most recent figures observed for those variables and for a "proxy" of the evolution of the number of live births (YoY change in the number of Guthrie tests in the first half of 2016).

In general terms, it was assumed that population growth would be overall more positive in the "High" scenario than in the "Low" scenario, due to the greater economic growth of the former, which would make the country more attractive in terms of migratory flows, on the one hand, and create better conditions to encourage a higher birth rate and promote lower mortality (due to better access to quality health services), when compared to the "Low" scenario.

Thus, the following hypotheses were considered for the Low Scenario:

  • Negative but gradually softened migration balance (annual balances ranging from -20,000 in 2016 to -8,000 from 2019 onward);
  • Natural population growth rate of -0.23% in 2016, -0.27% in 2017 and the same as that of Statistics Portugal (INE) "No Migration" scenario (2014), starting in 2018.

As for the "High" Scenario, the hypotheses used were:

  • Migratory balance still negative but progressively softened until 2017 (and lower, in absolute terms, than the "Low" scenario), of zero in 2018, growing between 2019 and 2021, then stabilising in an annual balance of 12,000 from 2021 onward;
  • Natural population growth rate of -0,169% in 2016, -0,19% in 2017 and the same as that of INE's "High" scenario, starting in 2018.

2.2 GDP and Private Consumption by Residents

Up to 2015, the annual figures of the National Accounts, updated by INE on September 23, 2016, were used for these two variables.

When preparing the scenarios for these variables, the forecasts and scenarios prepared for Portugal by several national and international institutions were taken into account, namely those of the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Portugal, the Portuguese Public Finance Council, the European Commission, the OECD and the IMF.

With regard to the year 2016, the information already available for this year, namely the National Accounts for the 1st and 2nd quarters, was also taken into account.

The "Low" Scenario was prepared based on annual GDP growth of 0.9% in 2016, 1% from 2017 to 2030, 0.9% in 2031 and then 0.8% from 2032 to 2050.

For the "High" Scenario a 1.1% increase in 2016 was admitted, corresponding to the same growth as that forecasted in the 2016-2020 Stability Programme for 2017 to 2020, 2.2% for the years 2021 to 2030, then slightly decelerating to 2.1% in 2031 and 2032 and then stabilising at 2.0% from 2033 to 2050.

With regard to Private Consumption by Residents, for 2016, growth between 1.8 ("Low" Scenario) and 2.2% ("High" Scenario) was admitted, given that the YoY change observed for the first semester of the year was 2%.

For 2017 growth of 1% was admitted for the "Low" Scenario, with 2% for the "High" scenario. From 2018 onward, the growth in Private Consumption was admitted to be identical to that of the GDP.

2.3 Private Consumption within the Territory

Private Consumption within the Territory (CT) is equivalent to Private Consumption by Residents (CR), plus Consumption, in Portugal, by Non-Residents (CNRT, also known as Tourism Exports), minus Consumption by Residents abroad, (CRE, also known as Tourism Imports).


Up to 2015, the figures used for these variables were provided by INE.

For 2016, the figures taken into account were those already observed for Tourism Exports and Imports in the first half of the year, with year-on-year changes of +8.3% and +5.3%, respectively (INE, Quarterly National Accounts) and for the Tourism Activity (INE, 2016c) from January to August of this year (cumulative YoY variation of +10.9% in the number of overnight stays in hotels by non-residents). Therefore, it was admitted that, in 2016, the growth of tourism exports would be between 8 and 12% and that of tourism imports would be between 4 and 7%.

For the years 2017 onwards, it was admitted that tourism imports were growing at the same rate as consumption by residents in both scenarios.

As for tourism exports, the growth rates forecasted for 2017-2050, for the "High" and "Low" Scenarios, which were used for REA 2013, 2014 and 2015 and estimated (in 2013) based on the developments forecasted at the time for the EU and world GDP, were maintained.

The scenarios for Consumption within the Territory were then obtained by adding to the figures forecasted for the Residents' Consumption, the figures of the scenarios for Tourism Exports and subtracting those of Tourism Imports, using the equation above.

  Levels observed (a) Average rates of annual changes in volume
2015 2001-15 2016-20 2021-30 2031-50 2016-20 2021-30 2031-50
GDP at market prices 179,5 0,2% 1,0% 1,0% 0,8% 1,8% 2,2% 2,0%
Private consumption by residents 117,8 0,4% 1,2% 1,0% 0,8% 2,0% 2,2% 2,0%
Consumption by Residents outside the territory 2,7 0,2% 1,6% 1,0% 0,8% 3,0% 2,2% 2,0%
Consumption by Non-residents within the territory 10,5 2,5% 3,8% 2,4% 2,0% 5,4% 3,2% 2,7%
Private consumption within the territory 125,6 0,5% 1,4% 1,1% 0,9% 2,3% 2,3% 2,1%
Resident population (annual average) 10,401 0,0% -0,4% -0,5% -0,7% -0,2% -0,2% -0,3%
per capita GDP 17,3 0,1% 1,4% 1,5% 1,5% 2,0% 2,4% 2,3%

Note (a) Preliminary figures, at current prices. Units: billions of euros for GDP and Consumption; Thousands of euros for per capita GDP; Thousands for Population; Sources for figures observed (Levels for 2015 and rates of change for 2001-15): GDP and Consumption: INE: National Accounts (23/9/2016); Population: INE, Estimates on Population Residing in Portugal (16 June 2016)


Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente (2015), Relatório do Estado do Ambiente 2015.

Banco Mundial (2016), Global Economic Prospects – Divergences and Risks, junho 2016.

Banco de Portugal (2016a), “Projeções para a Economia Portuguesa: 2016-2018”, in: Boletim Económico, junho de 2016.

Banco de Portugal (2016b), “Projeções para a Economia Portuguesa em 2016”, in: Boletim Económico, outubro de 2016.

Comissão Europeia (2015), The 2015 Ageing Report, European Economy 3/2015.

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Instituto Nacional de Estatística (2016b), Contas Nacionais Anuais e Trimestrais (Base 2011), atualização em 23 de setembro de 2016.

Instituto Nacional de Estatística (2016c), Atividade Turística –Agosto de 2016, Destaque, 14 de outubro de 2016.

Ministério Ambiente, Ordenamento do Território e Energia (MAOTE, 2015), Compromisso para o Crescimento Verde, abril de 2015.

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The Economist Intelligence Unit (2016b), World summary, EIU Global Forecasting Service, 14 de setembro de 2016.


Macroeconomic Scenarios elaborated by the General Secretariat of the Ministry for the Environment in October 2016