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The Measurement of Extreme Poverty in the EU

 Old woman © Reporters © Reporters

One of the objectives of the Strategy Europe 2020 is to reduce by 20 million the number of poor people in the European Union within the next decade.

To measure progress towards this objective, a number of indicators must be agreed on. Currently, the most frequently used indicator is the relative income poverty measure.

This indicator, while justified in many ways, presents some weaknesses and, especially does not properly reflect the real living conditions of EU citizen. Living under the poverty threshold in the richer countries does not involve the same difficulties than living under the poverty threshold in the poorest ones. The at-risk-of-poverty threshold is also very low in some of the poorer countries for example in Romania the threshold is €1.71 per day per person.

The European Commission has therefore commissioned a study to investigate the feasibility of measuring extreme poverty at EU level.

After a review of the existing approaches to the measurement of extreme poverty, the authors of the study recommend to combine income and deprivation measures. This would reveal that there is some extreme poverty in all countries but highlight where there is much more extreme poverty

This approach would focus more attention on inequalities between the richer and poorer countries of the EU, and on the EU as a community of nations committed to the eradication of social exclusion.

The recommendations of this study could contribute to the work of the Indicator's Subgroup of the Social Protection Committee for the revision in 2015 of the poverty reduction targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

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