EU poverty rates fall back to pre-crisis levels

19 Oct 16

Around 119 million people or 23.7% of the population of the European Union are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, official figures have shown.

This reduces the share of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the European Union back to the pre-crisis levels of 2008.

The figures were published at the start of the week by Eurostat, the official statistical body of the EU, on the occasion of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

After three consecutive increases between 2009 and 2012, where poverty risk reached almost 25% of the EU’s population, it has since continuously decreased, and is now back to its pre-crisis level 23.7%.

The reduction in the number of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU is one of the key targets of the Europe 2020 strategy.

The highest rate of those at risk of poverty or social exclusion across the European Union exists in Bulgaria (41.3%). The country was one of three countries where more than a third of the population was at risk. The other two were Romania (37.3%) and Greece (35.7%).

Meanwhile, the lowest risk was found in the Czech Republic (14%), Sweden (16%) the Netherlands and Finland (both 16.8%), and Demark and France (both 17.7%).

The largest decrease in the proportion of the population who were at risk since 2008 was found in Poland and Romania, (-7.1%) Romania (-6.9%) and Bulgaria (-3.5%). Of those countries with the largest growth of people who are at risk, the highest increases were recorded in Greece (+7.6%), Cyprus (+5.6%) and Spain (+4.8%).

Eurostat’s figures also reveal that the younger generation is more likely to be at risk of poverty and social exclusion. Of the total population of the EU that is at risk, 26.9% were under the age of 18, while 17.4% were over 65 years old.

The data underpinning the report is based on the EU-Statistics on Income Living Conditions Survey, the EU reference source on income distribution, poverty and living conditions.

To be at risk of poverty or at risk of social exclusion, an individual must fulfill at least one of the following conditions: at risk of poverty after social transfers (income poverty), severely materially deprived, or living in households with very low work intensity.

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