In 2016, 117.5 million people, or 23.4% of the population, in the European Union (EU) were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, says the latest Eurostat study released on the occasion of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. 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 23.4% last year, only 0.1 percentage points above its 2009 low-point.
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.
In 2016, more than a third of the population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion in three Member States: Bulgaria (40.4%), Romania (38.8%) and Greece (35.6%). 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 (13.3%), Finland (16.6%), Denmark (16.7%) and the Netherlands (16.8%).
Among Member States for which data are available, the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate has grown from 2008 in ten Member States, with the highest increases being recorded in Greece (from 28.1% in 2008 to 35.6% in 2016, or +7.5 percentage points), Cyprus (+4.4pp), Spain (+4.1pp) and Sweden (+3.4 pp).
In contrast, the largest decrease was observed in Poland (from 30.5% to 21.9%, or – 8.6 pp), followed by Latvia (-5.7 pp) and Romania (-5.4pp).
At EU level, the proportion of the total population being at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2016 (23.4%) decreased by 0.3 percentage points from 2008.
In the EU in 2016, 7.5% 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 2015(8.1%) and 2008 (8.5%). The share of those severely materially deprived in 2016 varied significantly among Member States, ranging from more than 20% of the total population in Bulgaria (31.9%), Romania (23.8%) and Greece (22.4%), to less than 4% in Sweden (0.8%), Luxembourg (1.6%), Finland (2.2%), Denmark and the Netherlands (both 2.6%), Austria (3.0%) and Germany (3.7%).