Material deprivation statistics - early results
- Data extracted in April 2016. Most recent data available in Eurostat Database: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: April 2017.
Increased timelines of the EU-SILC data
Since 2014 Eurostat disseminates early results for severe material deprivation rates so that trends in poverty levels can be tracked more closely. The coverage and the timeliness increased over the years. 2014 data were available for over half the European Union (EU) Member States, and Iceland, now the 2015 data is available for 21 countries from the 28 Member States and for Iceland and Norway. This improvement in coverage makes possible to estimate for the first time early EU-28 aggregates. Bulgaria, Latvia, Hungary, Austria, and Finland have provided final data for the early results, while Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, Iceland and Norway have transmitted provisional data.
In 2015, of the countries that sent data to Eurostat, early severe material deprivation rate increased for Bulgaria (+1.1 percentage points). The rates fell significantly in Hungary (-4.6 pp), Latvia (-2.8 pp), Poland (-2.3 pp), Malta (-2.1 pp), Estonia and Romania (both -1.7 pp), the Czech Republic (-1.5 pp), the United Kingdom (-1.2 pp) and Portugal (-1.0 pp). No large variations were seen in the other countries for which data is available.
This article is based on data sent to Eurostat by end of March 2016. Final EU-SILC cross sectional data for 2015 are already available for five Member States and 16 Member States and Iceland and Norway have provided provisional material deprivation and ‘economic strain’ data. In Eurostat’s online database, provisional indicators are flagged ‘p’ (provisional) to distinguish them from final data. The difference between provisional data and final data is explained below in the section on ‘Data sources and availability’. For the countries for which only provisional data is available, the analysis is merely indicative: in some cases, there may be discrepancies between provisional and final data. Although we refer to the severe material deprivation indicators for the 23 countries as early indicators, for Bulgaria, Latvia, Hungary, Austria, and Finland the values are already final.
Material deprivation rates gauge the proportion of people whose living conditions are severely affected by a lack of resources. The severe material deprivation rate represents the proportion of people living in households that cannot afford at least four of the following nine items:
- mortgage or rent payments, utility bills, hire purchase instalments or other loan payments;
- one week’s holiday away from home;
- a meal with meat, chicken, fish or vegetarian equivalent every second day;
- unexpected financial expenses;
- a telephone (including mobile telephone);
- a colour TV;
- a washing machine;
- a car; and
- heating to keep the home sufficiently warm.
The severe material deprivation rate, broken down by gender, age group and household type, is the main indicator for material poverty in this article.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
- 7 Notes
Main statistical findings
In 2013, the rate of severe material deprivation in the EU-28 was 9.6 %, a decrease of 0.3 pp from 2012. The rate varies significantly from country to country (see Table 1): the lowest levels among the EU and EFTA countries were in Switzerland (0.7 %), Sweden (1.4 %), and Luxembourg (1.8 %), and the highest in Bulgaria (43.0 %) and Romania (28.5 %). The biggest increases as compared with 2012 were observed for Portugal (+2.3 pp), Hungary (+1.5 pp) and Cyprus (+1.1 pp), reflecting the worsening of material living conditions in those countries, while the situation improved most for Lithuania (-3.8 pp), Italy (-2.1 pp), and Estonia (-1.8 pp).
In 2014, the rate of severe material deprivation in the EU-28 was 9.0 %, a decrease of 0.6 pp from 2013. The lowest levels were in Sweden (0.7 %) and Luxembourg ( (1.4) inside the EU, as well as in Norway (1.2 %), and Switzerland (1.3 %) among the EFTA members, and the highest in Bulgaria (33.1 %), Romania (26.3 %) and Hungary (24.0 %). The largest increases as compared with 2013 were observed for Greece (+1.2 pp), reflecting the worsening of material living conditions in that country, while the situation improved most for Latvia (-4.8 pp), Hungary (-3.8 pp), and Lithuania (-2.4 pp).
As compared the final data for 2013 and 2014 show an important fall in severe material deprivation next to the previously mentioned countries in Romania (-2.2 pp), Ireland and Poland (both -1.5 pp), and the United Kingdom (-1.0 pp). Limited or no change was registered in other countries.
As compared the final 2014 data with the early data for 2015 show that at EU-28 level the severe material deprivation decreased by 0.8 pp to 8.2 %. There is an important increase in severe material deprivation in Bulgaria (+1.1 percentage points). On the other hand, rates fell markedly in Hungary (-4.6 pp), Latvia (-2.8 pp), Poland (-2.3 pp), Malta (-2.1 pp), Estonia and Romania (both -1.7 pp), the Czech Republic (-1.5 pp), the United Kingdom (-1.2 pp) and Portugal (-1.0 pp). Limited or no change was registered in other countries that provided early data.
Severe material deprivation by household type
With some exceptions, the early severe material deprivation rates available for 2015 confirm the tendency, seen in previous years, of higher incidence among:
- people living in single person households with dependent children;
- single person households; and
- households with two adults and three or more children (see Table 2).
In Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, and Romania, households with two adults and one dependent child were least affected by severe material deprivation. In Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland and the United Kingdom, the least affected were households with two adults, at least one of whom was aged 65 or more. In Slovenia the least affected households had two adults with three or more dependent children in 2015.
Severe material deprivation by age
As in 2013, the rates by age for 2014 show that severe material deprivation is the worst, in most of the Member States for which data is available, among under 18 year olds (see Table 3). The most significant increases for this age group were recorded in the Czech Republic (+2.4 pp), The Netherlands (+1.4 pp) and Belgium (+1.3 pp). On the other hand, the largest decreases were observed in Bulgaria (-7.9 pp), Latvia (-5.5 pp) and Lithuania (-4.8 pp).
The rates for working age adults (aged 18 to 64) rose in Greece (+1.3 pp) and Spain (+1.1 pp), but considerably fell in Bulgaria (-10.4 pp), Latvia (-4.7 pp) and Hungary (-4.3 pp).
For elderly persons (aged 65 and over), the rate increased Greece (+1.8 pp), but a decrease was observed for Bulgaria (-10.4 pp), Latvia (-4.6 pp), Croatia (-2.2 pp), Poland (-1.8 pp), Italy (-1.5 pp), Hungary and Romania (both -1.3 pp). Year on year changes for other countries are less significant.
Similarly to 2014, the early rates by age for 2015 show that severe material deprivation is the worst, in most of the Member States for which data is available, among under 18 year olds (see Table 3). The most significant increases for this age group were recorded in Greece (+1.9 pp) and Belgium (+1.0 pp). On the other hand, major decreases were observed in Hungary (-7.0 pp), Latvia (-2.9 pp) and the Czech Republic (-2.7 pp).
The rates for working age adults (aged 18 to 64) rose in Bulgaria (+1.8 pp), but fell the most in Hungary (-4.6 pp), Latvia (-2.5 pp) and Poland (-2.3 pp).
For elderly persons (aged 65 and over), there were no significant increase, but considerably decreased for Latvia (-3.8 pp), Romania (-3.0 pp) and Hungary (-2.3 pp).
Factors of material deprivation
As in previous years, the early data for 2015 show that severe material deprivation rates are determined mainly by changes in the ability to afford:
- unexpected financial expenses;
- a meal with meat, chicken or fish (or vegetarian equivalent) every second day; and
- one week’s holiday away from home.
These items, for which deprivation rates are highest, are also those that are not durable (investment) items but are covered largely (or not) by monetary income available for household expenditure. Rates for these items thus provide an early indication of changes in monetary income.
In the 2014 data, the percentage of people who said they were unable to face unexpected expenses fell, compared with the 2013 data, in most of the countries for which early data are available (see Figure 1), in particular Bulgaria (-14.5 pp), Estonia (-2.8 pp), Lithuania and the United Kingdom (both -2.2 pp). On the other hand, the early data show a worsening situation in this respect in Norway (+4.9 pp), Greece (+4.7 pp), and Hungary (+1.0 pp).
The data for 2014 showed that the percentage of the population that cannot afford to go on a week’s annual holiday decreased the most compared with 2013 in Bulgaria (-16.4 pp), Estonia (-13.1 pp), Poland (-8.0 pp), Hungary (-7.6 pp) and Latvia (-7.2 pp), but increased in Greece (+1.0 pp) (see Figure 2).
Finally, the percentage of people who said they could not afford a meal with meat, fish, chicken or a vegetarian equivalent every second day decreased substantially in Bulgaria (-11.6 pp), Hungary (-6.3 pp) and Latvia (-4.2 pp) (see Figure 3).
In 2015, the percentage of people who said they were unable to face unexpected expenses fell, compared with 2014 final data, in most of the countries for which early data are available (see Figure 1). The largest decrease were in Latvia (-7.0 pp), Poland (-6.3 pp) and the Czech Republic (- 4.9 pp). On the other hand, the early data show a notably worsening situation in this respect in Bulgaria (+3.8 pp), Iceland (+2.8 pp) and Belgium (+2,0 pp).
The early data for 2015 show that the percentage of the population that cannot afford to go on a week’s annual holiday decreased considerably compared with 2014 in Poland (-8.6 pp), the Czech Republic (-5.0 pp) and Spain (-4.9 pp), but increased in Bulgaria (+10.5 pp), Greece (+3.7 pp) and Lithuania (+1.0 pp). (see Figure 2).
Finally, the percentage of people who said in 2015 they could not afford a meal with meat, fish, chicken or a vegetarian equivalent every second day decreased the most in Hungary (-3.9 pp), Latvia (-3.1 pp) and Poland (-3.0 pp), but increased in Croatia (+1.8 pp) (see Figure 3).
Making ends meet
The economic strain variable ‘making ends meet’ was included in the early transmission of data. This is linked to current income and enables the timely detection of trends in poverty.
The 2015 data are broadly consistent with the situation in 2013 and 2014 (see Table 4) ; in other words:
- in most countries, the highest proportions of people said they either had ‘some difficulties’ or it was ‘fairly easy’ for them to make ends meet ('Medium' ability to make ends meet) ;
- Greece, Bulgaria, and Croatia were the countries with the highest proportions of people who had ‘difficulties’ or ‘great difficulties’ in making ends meet ('Low' ability to make ends meet); and
- the highest proportion of people who could make ends meet ‘easily’ or ‘fairly easily’ ('High' ability to make ends meet) were in the Netherlands, followed by Norway and Finland.
Significant changes in 2014 concerned:
- major decreases in the proportion of people who had ‘difficulty’ or ‘great difficulty’ in making ends meet ('Low' ability) in Latvia (-5.4 pp), Hungary (-4.0 pp), Estonia (-3.7 pp) and Lithuania (-3.5 pp); and
- significant increases in Slovenia (+2.0 pp), Lithuania (+1.5 pp), the United Kingdom (+1.8 pp), Estonia (+1.7 pp), Cyprus and Iceland (both +1.0 pp) in the proportion of people who could make ends meet ‘easily’ or ‘very easily‘ ('High' ability).
Significant changes in 2015 concerned:
- substantial decreases in the proportion of people who had ‘difficulty’ or ‘great difficulty’ in making ends meet ('Low' ability) in Croatia (-6.4 pp), Latvia (-6.3 pp) and the Czech Republic (-4.1 pp); and
- considerable increases in Iceland (+4.9 pp), Norway (+4.3 pp), the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (both +3.6 pp) and Finland (+3.1 pp) in the proportion of people who could make ends meet ‘easily’ or ‘very easily’ ('High' ability).
Data sources and availability
EU-SILC, established under ‘framework’ Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003, is the reference source for statistics and indicators on income and living conditions. It is a multi-purpose instrument that focuses mainly on income, collecting detailed income components at household and individual level, but also gathers information on social exclusion, material deprivation, housing conditions, labour market participation, education and health.
Currently, by the time it has been processed and indicators have been released, EU-SILC final data have a lag of almost two years in the case of monetary income data and one to one and a half years in the case of non-monetary information. This has profound implications for EU-SILC’s usefulness for policy purposes, especially in times of rapid economic change.
Monetary income is one of the most relevant factors for assessing poverty and inequality, but wealth and consumption levels are also relevant, linked as they are to material deprivation, i.e. the inability to afford goods and services and/or engage in activities seen by society as ‘ordinary’ or ‘necessities’.
Since the March 2000 Lisbon Summit, Member States and the Commission have cooperated in the field of social policy on the basis of the ‘open method of coordination’ (OMC). To monitor the social OMC, the EU and its Member States have adopted commonly agreed indicators, including in the area of material deprivation. In particular, the severe material deprivation rate is a component of the Europe 2020 ‘at risk of poverty or social exclusion’ headline indicator, calculated as the total number of persons at risk of poverty, severely materially deprived or living in households with very low work intensity.
More recently, the need for early estimates of material deprivation was highlighted in the Commission Communication Towards Social Investment for Growth and Cohesion — including implementing the European Social Fund 2014-20 (COM (2013) 83 final). Nine Member States sent Eurostat the first provisional material deprivation and economic strain data for 2012, so that it could carry out a feasibility study on calculating relevant variables and indicators. Its main conclusions were that the computation of provisional material deprivation indicators was feasible and that preliminary indicators were close to final material deprivation values. It found that there were two main reasons for discrepancies between early and final values:
- the application of preliminary cross sectional EU-SILC weightings, as not all information needed to work out final weightings is available at the end of the data collection year; and
- for some Member States, data editing could be finalised only partially by the early data submission date.
All EU-SILC microdata transmitted to Eurostat must contain individual and household weightings. In all household surveys, mainly because of non-response, some groups are over-represented and others under-represented in the raw data. These imbalances are usually dealt with by attaching a compensatory weighting to members of sub-groups thought to be over- or under-represented in the survey data.
All survey estimates are calculated using these weightings. Data are calibrated to align totals from the survey to known totals from reliable external sources such as recent population statistics, including information on age, gender, regional breakdowns, the labour force, etc. All these variables might not be fully available to national statistical institutes at the time the early material deprivation variables have to be transmitted, i.e. at the beginning of the year after data collection. The information used to construct the cross sectional household and individual weightings is specific to each Member State and decided at national level . Several procedures are applied to construct the provisional weightings, which might (as the study showed) come very close to the final weightings.
The recent economic and financial crisis has thrown up a number of challenges for official statistics and social statistics in particular, where the timeliness of data and indicators has become a key issue in the debate.
Eurostat (together with the Member States) initiated the experimental transmission of early data on material deprivation and economic strain variables collected through the EU-SILC survey in response to the urgent needs of social policymaking. Although monetary poverty is one of the most relevant factors when assessing poverty and social inclusion, material deprivation is also an important descriptor of the difficulties households face in achieving the living standards considered by society to be normal.
Material deprivation data and indicators are absolute measures that can be used to analyse and compare aspects of poverty in and across Member States. Currently, data are made available in March of the year following the survey year and cover three quarters the Member States. The aim is to disseminate early non income data, eventually for all Member States, at the end of the survey collection (reference) year or at the very beginning of the next year. It is not possible to bring forward the provision of comprehensive monetary income data in the same way, as this takes more time to make them available in a majority of countries.
- Children at risk of poverty or social exclusion
- Employment statistics
- Income distribution statistics
- People at risk of poverty or social exclusion
- Social inclusion statistics
Further Eurostat information
- 23 % of EU citizens were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2010 - Statistics in Focus 9/2012
- Combating poverty and social exlusion. A statistical portrait of the European Union 2010 - Statistical books
- Children were the age group at the highest risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2011 - Statistics in Focus 4/2013
- European social statistics (2013) - Statistical books
- Income and living conditions in Europe (2010) - Statistical books
- Living conditions in Europe (2002 – 2005) – Statistical pocketbooks
- Living standards falling in most Member States - Statistics in Focus 8/2013
- The Social Situation in the European Union 2009 - Statistical books
- Income and living conditions (t_ilc)
- Material deprivation (t_ilc_md)
- Income and living conditions (ilc)
- Material deprivation (ilc_md) (Implementation of changes in variables)
- Material deprivation by dimension (ilc_mddd)
- Economic strain (ilc_mdes)
- Material deprivation (ilc_md) (Implementation of changes in variables)
Methodology / Metadata
- Income and living conditions (ESMS metadata file — ilc_esms)
- What can be learned from deprivation indicators in Europe?
- Measuring material deprivation in the EU
- Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 of 16 June 2003 concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC)
- Regulation (EC) No 1553/2005 of 7 September 2005 amending Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC)
- Regulation (EC) No 1791/2006 of 20 November 2006 adapting certain Regulations and Decisions in the fields of ... statistics, ..., by reason of the accession of Bulgaria and Romania
- Communication COM (2013) 083 final of 20 February 2013 towards Social Investment for Growth and Cohesion – including implementing the European Social Fund 2014-2020
- Comparison of UK and EU at-risk-of-poverty rates 2005-2010
- Employment and Social Developments in Europe (2012)
- OECD statistics on measuring economic performance and social progress
- The social dimension of the EUROPE 2020 strategy - A report of the social protection committee (2011)
- Bulgaria, Latvia, Hungary, Austria, and Finland
- Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Lithuania, Malta (only provisional aggregate material deprivation data), Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.
- More information can be found in the national quality reports
- EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions.