Disability statistics - financial situation
Data extracted in : September 2019
Planned article update: September 2020
In 2017, 41.9 % of people in the EU with activity limitation could not afford a one-week annual holiday.
In 2017, 12.4 % of people in the EU with activity limitation could not afford to eat meat, fish or a vegetarian equivalent every other day.
In 2017, 42.4 % of people in the EU with activity limitation could not meet unexpected financial expenses.
Population living in households that reported having difficulties in making ends meet, 2017
This article is part of the set of articles on disability and discusses the financial situation of people with activity limitation, and the effect that financial difficulties can have on their well-being. The findings presented in this article are based on the European Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) which assesses the effect of financial difficulties on the basis of a household's own perception of their situation.
Financial difficulties: households are asked, for example, whether they struggle to make ends meet, whether they can afford to go away for a one-week holiday once a year, and whether they can afford to eat meat or fish regularly.
In EU-SILC, disability is approximated according to the concept of global activity limitation, which is defined as a “limitation in activities people usually do because of health problems for at least the past six months”. This definition is in line with the concept of disability as set out in the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020.
Struggling to make ends meet
People with activity limitation are more likely to struggle to make ends meet
In 2017, 29.6 % of adults (aged 16 or over) with activity limitation in the EU lived in households that reported having difficulties in making ends meet (i.e. whose financial resources did not cover their usual necessary expenses), compared with 18.7 % among the adult population with no activity limitation (Figure 1). The proportion of people with activity limitation suffering such financial difficulties was:
- above 50 % in Greece (82.1 %), Bulgaria (71.8 %), Croatia (56.6 %), Latvia (53.1 %), Cyprus (52.2 %) and Hungary (52.0 %),
- 20 % or less in Sweden (16.1 %), Denmark (16.0 %), Luxembourg (15.9 %), Austria (15.7 %), Germany (12.9 %) and Finland (10.3 %).
One-week annual holiday
41.9 % of the people with activity limitation could not afford a one-week annual holiday
One of the consequences of difficult financial circumstances is not being able to go on holiday (Figure 2) – measured as not being able to afford a one-week holiday, once a year:
- people with activity limitation appear to be more likely to find themselves in this position (41.9 %),
- compared with 26.0 % of the adult population not suffering any activity limitation.
The proportion of people with activity limitation who could not afford a one-week holiday was much higher in eastern European Member States: 75.3 % in Romania, 72.0 % in Bulgaria and 71.2 % in Croatia. The lowest values were observed in Sweden (21.0 %), Austria (20.7 %) and Luxembourg (15.9 %).
Meat or fish at least every other day
12.4 % of people with activity limitation could not afford to eat meat, fish or a vegetarian equivalent every other day
The financial difficulties faced by people with activity limitation are also evidenced by the fact that 12.4 % of them lived in households that could not afford to eat meat, fish or a vegetarian equivalent at least every other day.
The proportion of the population without limitation for which this is the case is notably lower, at 6.7 %. The percentage of people with activity limitation not able to afford to eat meat, fish or a vegetarian equivalent every other day varies significantly between countries, ranging from 3.4 % in Ireland and 3.5 % in Luxembourg, to 27.9 % in Lithuania, and 44.5 % in Bulgaria.
Unexpected financial expenses
42.4 % of people with activity limitation would not be able to meet unexpected financial expenses
In the EU as a whole, 42.4 % of adults with activity limitation lived in households which would not be able to meet unexpected financial expenses, compared with 30.4 % among those not having any activity limitation.
Being able to meet unexpected financial expenses
This means that a household can cover an unexpected essential expense from its own resources, that is, without asking for help from anybody (e.g. borrowing money from friends or family), going overdrawn on its bank accounts or worsening its situation with regard to potential debts. Examples of essential expenses are having surgery, paying for a funeral, having major repairs carried out in the house or replacing durable goods (e.g. a washing machine or a car).
People with activity limitation are more likely to be affected by financial difficulties of this nature than anyone else. There is also significant variation across countries: the proportion of adults with activity limitation living in households that would be unable to meet an unexpected financial expense varies from 71.9 % in Bulgaria, 69.9 % in Latvia and 67.9 % in Lithuania to 27.0 % in Luxembourg, 26.0 % in Austria and 25.4 % in Malta (Figure 4).
Falling behind with payments
Financial difficulties may leave households unable to service their debts or to pay their usual expenses such as utility bills
In 2017, people with activity limitation were slightly more likely to be in arrears than people without limitation: 10.4 % of adults (population aged 16 or over) with activity limitation in the EU lived in households which were behind with their payments (for a mortgage or rent, utility bills or hire purchases) in the last 12 months, compared with 7.9 % of the adult population with no limitation.
Similarly, 5.4 % of people aged 65 or over with limitation had been in arrears on payments in the last 12 months, compared with 2.7 % of the population with no limitation.
The percentage of people (population aged 16 or over) with activity limitation struggling to meet their payments is highest in Greece (42.8 %), Bulgaria (36.7 % ) and Cyprus (24.8 %). At the other end, the lowest values were recorded in Germany (5.6 %), Luxembourg (4.4 %) and Czechia (3.9 %).
Source data for tables and graphs
The EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions instrument is the EU reference source for comparative statistics on income distribution and social inclusion at the European level. It provides annual data for the 28 EU countries, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey on income, poverty, social exclusion and other aspects of living conditions.
The reference population for EU-SILC is limited to private households and their current members residing in the territory of the countries at the time of data collection. People living in collective households and institutions are generally excluded from the reference population, which does constitute a limitation when the area under discussion is disability. All household members are surveyed, but only those aged 16 or over are interviewed.
One of the specific objectives of the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 is to ensure adequate living conditions for people with disabilities by means of public housing programmes. This objective is also emphasised in the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, of which the EU is a signatory. It is recognised as an important step towards ensuring better accessibility (Article 9) and adequate standards of living and social protection (Article 28) for people with disabilities.
- Inability to afford paying for one week annual holiday away from home by level of activity limitation, sex and age (hlth_dm020)
- Inability to afford a meal with meat, chicken, fish (or vegetarian equivalent) every second day by level of activity limitation, sex and age (hlth_dm030)
- Inability to face unexpected financial expenses by level of activity limitation, sex and age (hlth_dm040)
- Arrears (mortgage or rent, utility bills or hire purchase) by level of activity limitation, sex and age (hlth_dm050)
- Ability to make ends meet by level of activity limitation, sex and age (hlth_dm060)
- Health (hlth), see:
- Disability (hlth_dsb)
- Income distribution and poverty among disabled people (source SILC) (hlth_dsb_pe)
- Material deprivation among disabled people (source SILC) (hlth_dsb_md)
- Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 of 16 June 2003 concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) and its updates for successive enlargements
- Summaries of EU Legislation: EU statistics on income and living conditions