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Our lives in the city

07/02/2018

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In 2016, 41.2% of the population lived in the cities, 30.6% lived in towns and suburbs, and 28.2% lived in rural areas.

 

Poster on urban and rural living in the EU

 

A closer look at people at risk of poverty or social exclusion

In 2016, almost one in four city dwellers (23.6%) in the EU was at risk of poverty or social exclusion. However, this rate was lower than the 25.5% of the population at risk of poverty or social exclusion who lived in rural areas, but higher than 21.6% of population in towns and suburbs. To be 'at risk of poverty or social exclusion', one of the following three situations must apply: the person must be at risk of (monetary) poverty; severely materially deprived; living in a household with very low work intensity.

The total share of the population who were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU has slightly increased over the years. In cities the share has risen from 22.7% in 2010 to 23.6% in 2016, while in towns and suburbs it has increased from 20.3% in 2010 to 21.6% in 2016. In contrast, the share has decreased in rural areas from 29.0% in 2010 to 25.5% in 2016. However, the trends varied across the EU Member States.

 

Share of city dwellers at risk of poverty or social exclusion highest in Greece, lowest in Slovakia

The lowest share of city dwellers at risk of poverty or social exclusion was recorded in Slovakia (13.0%), closely followed by Czech Republic (13.8%), ahead of Poland (16.2%) and Finland (17.2%). On the other hand, the highest share was observed in the cities of Greece (33.6%), followed by Bulgaria (31.1%), Italy (30.3%) and Belgium (29.3%).

In 12 EU Member States, cities recorded the lowest proportion of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion, whilst in ten Member States, the lowest proportions were recorded in rural areas. In six Member States, the lowest proportions were recorded in town and suburbs.

 

Share of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion, by degree of urbanisation

The source dataset is accessible here.

 

City dwellers in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom were more likely to be at risk of poverty or social exclusion than those living in rural areas, towns and suburbs. In contrast, city dwellers in Romania were half as likely as those living in rural areas to face the risk of poverty or social exclusion, followed by Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia and Lithuania.

The statistics show a marked geographical split: on the one hand, the highest risk of poverty or social exclusion in most of the western and northern Member States was usually recorded for people living in cities. However, the highest risk of poverty or social exclusion for many of the eastern, southern and Baltic Member States was usually recorded in rural populations.

The Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Ireland, and Slovenia recorded a fairly uniform distribution across all their territories.

This news item marks the ninth session of the World Urban Forum, the world's premier conference on urban issues, held from 7 to 13 February 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.