Indebtedness of households and the cost of debt by household type and income group - Research note 10/2014 by Eva Sieaminska (2014) The research note examines the indebtedness of households in the EU. It focuses on several aspects of household indebtedness and considers the structure of debt, including bank loans and other types of credit from banks and individuals. It compares differences among household types, particularly for the young and the middle-income groups. It examines the costs of servicing debt and how far this imposes a burden on households with differing levels of income. It identifies those that have been experiencing financial distress, which have been increasing in number, and considers their coping mechanisms..
The analysis is based on the new Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS), which provides harmonised information for 15 eurozone member countries on household balance sheets and related economic and demographic variables, including income, private pensions, employment, measures of consumption, gifts and inheritances and other behavioral variables. The sample consists of over 62 000 households and the first wave was carried out between the end of 2008 and the middle 2011.
Analysing equity in the use of long-term care in Europe - Research note 9/2014 by Ricardo Rodrigues, Stefania Ilinca, Andrea Schmidt (2014) There are significant differences across social protection systems in Europe in the scope, breadth and depth of coverage of the risk to need long-term care in old-age. Together with other factors, such as education, household structure or societal values regarding care for frail older people, these differences can have a significant impact on the use of long-term care. Using SHARE data, this Research Note compares differences between European countries in the use of long-term care across income groups, for older people living at home. It analyses not only inequalities in the use of long-term care, but also differences in use that persist after differences in need have been taken into consideration, i.e. horizontal inequality. For this purpose, concentration indices, concentration curves and horizontal inequality indices are estimated for home care services and informal care. The countries analysed here are Austria, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Denmark, Greece, Belgium and Czech Republic. The findings suggest that differences in use of home care services across income groups mostly reflect differences in need between those same groups. For informal care, the differences in use persist even after accounting for needs, and less affluent individuals are much more likely to use informal care. Some possible causes for these differences and policy implications are considered.
Inequality in the use of childcare - Research note 8/2014 by Márton Medgyesi and Niki Kalaverzou (2014) Improving the availability and affordability of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services is high up on the EU policy agenda as affordable childcare supports parents’ access to the labour market, addresses child poverty and contributes to breaking the intergenerational transmission of poverty. In this research note, the objective is to propose a synthetic and functional way of measuring the social gradient of childcare use, which allows regular monitoring. Two issues in the measurement of the social gradient are investigated: the choice of an indicator of socioeconomic status and the choice of summary measure of the social gradient. In this analysis socioeconomic status is measured by equivalised disposable income, parental education and also by using a composite indicator of socioeconomic status. Problems of using simple frequency ratios as a measure of the social gradient are reviewed and other measures that have been proposed in the literature on health inequality are presented, such as measures of association and measures based on rankings of the socioeconomic variable (concentration index, relative index of inequality). In the second part of the research note the social gradient in formal childcare use is calculated with different methods and results are presented and compared.
The legacy of the recession: values and societal issues - Research note 7/2014 by Zoltán Fábián, Manos Matsaganis, Michail Veliziotis and István G. Tóth (2014) This Research Note investigates how people's behaviour and perceptions in the Member States may have changed during the Great Recession and whether there are trends over time in the social climate, attitudes towards immigrants, trust in institutions and in others, demand for redistribution that can be identified. The questions examined include how far the socio-economic determinants of attitudes vary between countries; whether changes in macroeconomic conditions (the economic crisis) have a direct effect on attitudes; whether an increased demand for redistribution is evident as countries experience different phases of the crisis; how far there is a correlation between economic hardship and attitudes. These questions are assessed on the basis of both the European Social Survey (ESS) and various waves of the Eurobarometer survey. The most recent ESS data are from 2012, while the most recent EB data come from June 2014 (EB 81.5).
The analysis shows that trust in European institutions has declined while generalized trust did not massively change in the various EU Member states. Attitudes towards immigrants became less favourable on average between 2008 and 2010, bouncing back in the following years, while life satisfaction was lower in 2012 only in the most severely crisis-stricken countries. Macro-economic factors, such as the evolution of the unemployment rate across the EU countries, appear to be closely related to the above changes.
Perceptions of widespread poverty selectively increased in the various countries, however, causal attribution of poverty shifted towards societal (as opposed to personal) attributes. Demand for redistribution did not increase in general. Rather, expectations towards non-state solutions of provisions of jobs, of education etc. have been increased. The country variance in welfare attitudes is large.
Scarring effects of the crisis - Research note 6/2014 by Nicole Fondeville and Terry Ward (2014) This research note presents a review of the literature analysing the damaging effects of the crisis on individuals, in particular, on their working careers and future life chances, and ultimately on the future growth prospects of the EU economy. It shows that the economic crisis has potentially scarring effects in these terms on young people especially. Even if many of them are likely to be able to catch-up and avoid their experience having long-term detrimental effects, it will, nevertheless, tend to increase the risk of social exclusion and health problems for some of them and oblige them to adopt coping strategies in the face of limited employment opportunities. There is very little literature on the damaging effects of the crisis on economic growth simply because of the difficulties of analysing the links between current events and developments over the next 10-20 years when any adverse consequences for labour productivity are likely to be felt. Given that it is very difficult to identify the relative importance of the various factors underlying productivity growth in the long-term, it is only to be expected that distinguishing the effect of an event like the present crisis would prove problematic. The crisis, however, can potentially have positive effects as well, in the form in particular of encouraging a deeper consideration of strategies for both minimising the damage to individuals, especially the young, and stimulating economic growth so that it is sustained over the long-term. Investment in education is at the root of such strategies and the note ends with a review of what has happened to expenditure on education across the EU over the crisis period.
The effect of the crisis on young people’s ability to live independently - Research note 5/2014 by Erhan Őzdemir, Terry Ward and Eszter Zolyomi (2014) This Research Note sets out to document the changes in the living arrangements of young people, specifically the extent to which they live with their parents or independently of them, over the crisis period and how these changes are related to their involvement in education and their employment situation. In particular, the concern is to examine how far the greatly reduced job opportunities for young people have led to more of them delaying the time when they move away from the parental home to set up on their own. The concern is also with the income which the young people leaving their parents have access to, how the sources of this have changed since the onset of the crisis and how far they are more likely to be at risk of poverty and material deprivation than their peers who remain living with their parents. The focus is on young people aged 18-29, though these are sub-divided for much of the analysis into two, those aged 18-24 and those aged 25-29. The analysis is based partly on the European Labour Force Survey and partly on the EU-SILC, using the longitudinal data from the latter so far as possible.
The effect of tax-benefit changes on the income distribution in 2008-2014 - Research note 2/2014 by Paola De Agostini, Alari Paulus and Iva Tasseva (2014) More than half of the EU countries have become poorer and more unequal since the start of the crisis in 2008. Despite lack of timely household micro data, using microsimulation techniques with up-to-date information on policy rules enables us to estimate the direct effect of tax-benefit policy changes in 2008-2014 on the income distribution, poverty and inequality levels in 10 EU countries, as well as track most recent trends by evaluating policy effects in 2013-2014. We identify and quantify these effects using the EU tax-benefit model EUROMOD to construct relevant counterfactual scenarios. Our results indicate that among these countries, most managed to pursue policies without adverse distributional effects, despite of challenging economic problems in this period. However, this has been accompanied by reductions in household income in several countries. There have also been some cases of clearly regressive changes in particular policy instruments. Overall, our results demonstrate the importance of comprehensive regular indexation to avoid the erosion of benefit amounts and tax thresholds over time, and specific population groups systematically gaining or losing relative to others.
Nowcasting: estimating developments in the risk of poverty and income distribution in 2013 and 2014 - Research note 1/2014 by Olga Rastrigina, Chrysa Leventi and Holly Sutherland (2014) The at-risk-of-poverty rate is one of the three indicators used for monitoring progress towards the Europe 2020 poverty and social exclusion reduction target. Timeliness of this indicator is crucial for monitoring of the social situation and of the effectiveness of tax and benefit policies. However, partly due to the complexity of EU-SILC data collection, estimates of the number of people at risk of poverty are published with a significant delay. This paper extends and updates previous work on estimating (‘nowcasting’) indicators of poverty risk using the tax-benefit microsimulation model EUROMOD. The model’s routines are enhanced with additional adjustments to the EU-SILC based input data in order to capture changes in the employment characteristics of the population since the data were collected. The nowcasting method is applied to seventeen EU Member States. AROP rates are estimated up to 2014 for ten countries and 2013 for the remaining seven countries. The performance of the method is assessed by comparing the predictions with actual EU-SILC indicators for the years for which the latter are available.
The distribution of wealth between households - Research note 11/2013 by Eva Sierminska with Márton Medgyesi (2013) This research note examines wealth-holding information collected by the new Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS) managed by the European Central Bank (ECB), the first results of which were published in April 2013.
First, it compares the extent of inequality in holdings of wealth against the extent of inequality of income, and discusses how this varies across countries.
Next, wealth inequality is decomposed into different components, in order to try to identify the main factors underlying the results.
In the next part of the research note, the division between liquid and illiquid wealth is examined and compared across household types. This is of considerable importance in respect of the ability to maintain consumption in the event of a drop in income. It is, therefore, a significant factor that should be taken into account when assessing the effects of the crisis on living standards.
In the following section, the timing of the data collection is considered and possible impacts are discussed. Since the survey was carried out at different times in different countries, the substantial variations that have occurred in recent years in both house-price and stock-market indices are likely to have had a major effect on the measurement of wealth and its distribution between households within countries, as well as between countries. This needs to be taken explicitly into account in any analysis.
In the final section, income as recorded by the ECB survey is compared with that recorded by EU-SILC. This is done by first reviewing the differences in the collection methodology and then by comparing the distribution of gross household income and its components.
Access of mobile EU citizens to social protection - Research note 10/2013 by Márton Medgyesi and Péter Pölöskei (2013) This paper investigates how receipt of welfare benefits differs between natives and mobile EU citizens in EU countries, on the basis of data from EU-SILC 2011. The analysis focuses on differences in receipt of non-contributory benefits (such as family benefits, housing benefits, poverty relief, etc.), although differences in the receipt of unemployment benefit are also considered.
A rough comparison shows welfare use to differ between natives and migrants in several cases. To sort out pure composition effects, multivariate statistical analysis (probit regressions) of benefit receipt (education, unemployment, disability, housing, family-related transfers and transfers to combat social exclusion) was carried out for 18 countries with specifications that controlled for age, gender, education, household type and labour-market status. The analysis shows that, for most benefits (unemployment, education, social exclusion), the differences between natives and mobile EU citizens are small and statistically insignificant in most of the countries. Higher benefit receipt among mobile EU citizens was found only in the case of housing benefit in a few countries. On the other hand, it seems that in most of the EU, being a mobile EU citizen is associated with a lower probability of receiving family and child-related benefits. The results contribute to a more balanced interpretation of the “welfare magnet” hypothesis, according to which generous welfare systems are important factors that substantially affect the numbers and composition of migrants.