The FINANCIAL -- In 2015, around 119 million people, or 23.7% of the population, in the European Union (EU) were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. This means that they were in at least one of the following three conditions: at-risk-of-poverty after social transfers (income poverty), severely materially deprived or living in households with very low work intensity.
After three consecutive increases between 2009 and 2012 to reach almost 25%, the proportion of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU has since continuously decreased to return to its 2008 level (23.7%), but it remains in 2015 higher than its 2009 low-point (23.3%). The reduction of 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.
Highest at risk of poverty or social exclusion rate in Bulgaria, lowest in the Czech Republic
In 2015, more than a third of the population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion in three Member States: Bulgaria (41.3%), Romania (37.3%) and Greece (35.7%). At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest shares of persons being at risk of poverty or social exclusion were recorded in the Czech Republic (14.0%), Sweden (16.0%), the Netherlands and Finland (both 16.8%), Denmark and France (both 17.7%).
Largest decrease in the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate in Poland and Romania, highest increase in Greece and Cyprus
Among Member States for which data are available, the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate has grown from 2008 to 2015 in fifteen Member States, with the highest increases being recorded in Greece (from 28.1% in 2008 to 35.7% in 2015, or +7.6 percentage points), Cyprus (+5.6 pp), Spain (+4.8 pp), Italy (+3.2 pp) and Luxembourg (+3.0 pp). In contrast, the largest decreases among Member States for which data are available were observed in Poland (from 30.5% to 23.4%, or -7.1 pp) and Romania (-6.9 pp), followed by Bulgaria (-3.5 pp) and Latvia (-3.3 pp). At EU level, the percentage of the total population being at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2015 (23.7%) was back to its 2008 level.
About 1 in 6 persons in the EU at risk of income poverty…
Looking at each of the three elements contributing to being at risk of poverty or social exclusion, 17.3% of the EU population in 2015 were at risk of poverty after social transfers, meaning that their disposable income was below their national at-risk-of-poverty threshold (see the corresponding table). This proportion of persons at risk of income poverty in the EU has slightly increased compared with 2014 (17.2%) and more significantly compared with 2008 (16.5%). As the thresholds reflect actual income distribution in the countries, they vary greatly between Member States and also over time. Across the EU Member States for which data are available, 1 in 4 persons was at risk of income poverty in Romania (25.4%) and about 1 in 5 in Latvia (22.5%), Lithuania (22.2%), Spain (22.1%), Bulgaria (22.1%), Estonia (21.6%), Greece (21.4%), Italy (19.9%) and Portugal (19.5%). In contrast, the lowest rates were observed in the Czech Republic (9.7%), the Netherlands (12.1%), Denmark (12.2%), Slovakia (12.3%) and Finland (12.4%). Compared with 2008, the proportion of persons at risk of income poverty has increased in twenty-two Member States for which data are available, and has decreased in four.
… 1 in 12 severely materially deprived…
In the EU in 2015, 8.1% of the population were severely materially deprived, meaning that they had living conditions constrained by a lack of resources such as not being able to afford to pay their bills, keep their home adequately warm, or take a one week holiday away from home. This proportion of persons severely materially deprived in the EU has decreased compared with both 2014 (8.9%) and 2008 (8.5%). The share of those severely materially deprived in 2015 varied significantly among Member States for which data are available, ranging from more than 20% of the total population in Bulgaria (34.2%), Romania (22.7%) and Greece (22.2%), to less than 5% in Sweden (0.7%), Luxembourg (2.0%), Finland (2.2%), the Netherlands (2.5%), Austria (3.6%), Denmark (3.7%), Germany (4.4%),
Estonia and France (both 4.5%). Compared with 2008, the proportion of persons severely materially deprived has increased in twelve Member States for which data are available, and decreased in fourteen.
…and 1 in 10 living in households with very low work intensity
Looking at low work intensity, 10.5% of the population aged 0-59 in the EU lived in households where the adults worked less than 20% of their total work potential during the past year. Compared with 2014, this proportion decreased in the EU for the first time since 2008. In 2015, Greece (16.8%), Spain (15.4%) and Belgium (14.9%) had the highest proportions of those living in very low work intensity households, while Luxembourg (5.7%) and Sweden (5.8%) had the lowest among Member States for which data are available. Compared with 2008, the share of persons aged 0-59 living in households with very low work intensity has increased in a large majority of Member States (twenty), while it decreased in six.