Material deprivation statistics - early results
Data extracted in June 2018
Planned article update: April 2019
Population unable to face unexpected financial expenses, 2014-2017 (early data) - % of population
Increased timeliness 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 has increased over the years. 22 European Union (EU) Member States and Norway submitted already the 2017 EU-SILC data, and this is the third year when the coverage makes it possible to estimate and disseminate earlier the EU-28 aggregates. Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Latvia, Hungary and Finland have provided final data, while the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and Norway have transmitted provisional data.
This article is based on data sent to Eurostat by mid June 2017. Final EU-SILC cross sectional data for 2017 are already available for six Member States; 16 Member States and Norway have provided provisional material deprivation and ‘economic strain’ data.
Material deprivation rate: country variations
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 adequately warm.
The severe material deprivation rate, broken down by sex, age group and household type, is the main indicator for material poverty in this article.
Since 2013, the rate of severe material deprivation in the EU-28 decreased from 9.6 % to 6.7 %, i.e. by 2.9 percentage points (pp). The rate varies significantly from country to country (see Table 1): the lowest levels among the EU and EFTA countries were 0.7 % in Switzerland in 2013 and in 0.8 % in Sweden in 2016. The highest values were in 2013 in Bulgaria (43 %), Romania (29.8 %) and Hungary (27.8 %). Since then, the proportion of the materially deprived population decreased in almost all the countries, and for the other countries limited or no change can be observed. The largest decreases in the proportion of persons lacking resources were in Hungary (-13.3 pp between 2013 and 2017), Bulgaria (-13 pp between 2013 and 2017) and Latvia (-12.7 pp between 2013 and 2017), reflecting the improving material living conditions in those countries.
In 2017, for most of the countries that sent data to Eurostat, early severe material deprivation rate decreased compared to 2016. The exceptions are Denmark, where it increased by 0.5 percentage points, from 2.6% in 2016 to 3.1% in 2017, Norway (0.3 percentage points increase, from 2% to 2.3%) and the Netherlands where it remained stable at 2.6%. The largest decreases are registered in Romania (from 23.8% in 2016 to 19.4% in 2017, or -4.4pp), followed by Italy (from 12.1% to 9.2%, or -2.9pp), Croatia (from 12.5% to 10.3%, or -2.2pp), Cyprus (from 13.6% to 11.7%, or -1.9pp) and Bulgaria (from 31.9% to 30.0%, or -1.9pp).
Severe material deprivation by household type
With some exceptions, the early severe material deprivation rates available for 2017 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, Estonia, Croatia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal and Romania, households with two adults and one dependent child were least affected by severe material deprivation. In Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Greece, Spain, France, Cyprus, Hungary, the Netherlands, Finland, the United Kingdom and Norway, 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 2017.
Severe material deprivation by age
In general, over the years the severe material deprivation is worst among under 18 year olds, while elderly persons (aged 65 and over) are less affected than the working age adults (aged 18 to 64). Since 2014, the rates by age decreased in most of the Member States for which early data is available (see Table 3). The only significant increases between 2014 and 2017 were in Norway with +1.5 pp for the youngest age group and 1.2 pp for working age adults (aged 18 to 64).
For the under-18-year-olds the severe material deprivation rate between 2016 and 2017 rose in Lithuania (+1.5 pp) and Denmark and Norway (both +0.1 pp), but fell considerably in Romania (-9.4 pp), Cyprus (-3.7 pp), Italy (-3.5 pp), Bulgaria (-3.0 pp), Greece (-2.9 pp), Croatia (-2.8 pp), Portugal (-2.2 pp), Hungary (-1.9 pp), the Czech Republic (-1.8 pp), Latvia (-1.6 pp) and Slovenia (-1.5 pp).
The rates for working age adults (aged 18 to 64) decreased from 2016 in Romania (-3.4 pp), Italy (-2.6 pp), Croatia (-2.4 pp), Bulgaria, Lithuania and Portugal (-2.0 pp all three), Hungary (-1.8 pp), Greece (-1.6 pp), Cyprus (-1.5 pp), the Czech Republic and Latvia (-1.2 pp for both). Year on year changes for other countries are less significant.
In 2017, decreases were observed for elderly persons (aged 65 and over) in Italy (-2.9 pp), Latvia (-2.2 pp), Romania (-1.9 pp), Malta (-1.3) and Bulgaria (-1.2 pp). Year on year changes for other countries are less notable.
Factors of material deprivation
As in previous years, the early data for 2017 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.
The percentage of people who said they were unable to face unexpected expenses fell, compared with the 2014 data, in most of the countries for which early data are available (see Figure 1), in particular Hungary (-44.4 pp), the Czech Republic (-12.7 pp), Cyprus (-9.7 pp), Slovenia (-9.2 pp), Malta (-8.7 pp), Croatia (-7.6 pp), Latvia (-7.5 pp), Spain (-6.1 pp), Portugal (-5.3 pp), Lithuania and the United Kingdom (-4.1 pp for both). On the other hand, the early data show a worsening situation in this respect in Norway (+6.9 pp), Bulgaria (+3.6 pp), Belgium and Finland (+1.3 pp for both) and Greece (+0.9 pp). Other countries show small decreases in the percentage of people saying that they were not able to face unexpected expenses.
In 2017, the percentage of people who said they were unable to face unexpected expenses fell, compared with 2016 final data, in most of the countries for which early data are available (see Figure 1). The largest decreases were in Hungary (-19.3 pp), Cyprus (-6.5 pp) and Slovenia (-5.1 pp). On the other hand, the early data show a worsening situation in this respect in Estonia (4.7 pp) and Norway (+3.5 pp).
The early data for 2017 show that the percentage of the population that cannot afford to go on a week’s annual holiday decreased in almost all countries for which early data are available compared with 2014. The largest changes were in Malta (-17.8 pp), the Czech Republic (-12.3 pp), Spain (-12.2 pp), Croatia (-12 pp), Hungary (-11.4 pp) and Portugal (-11.3 pp) (see Figure 2). In some countries there were small increases in the percentage of the population that cannot afford a one week's holiday per year: Bulgaria (+2.7 pp), Finland (+1.8 pp), Norway(+1.5 pp) and Greece (+0.9 pp).
The early data for 2017 show that the percentage of the population that cannot afford to go on a week’s annual holiday decreased considerably compared with 2016 in Spain (-6.1 pp), Slovenia (-4.1 pp), the Czech Republic (-3.9 pp) and Bulgaria (-3.8 pp), but slightly increased in Cyprus (+1.7 pp), Finland (+1.2 pp), Norway (+0.6 pp) and Latvia (+0.2 pp). (see Figure 2).
Since 2014, 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 Hungary (-11.3 pp), Malta (-9.3 pp) and Latvia (-6.1 pp), and increased in Denmark, Belgium, Spain, Lithuania, Greece and Norway (all increases below 1.5 pp) (see Figure 3).
The percentage of people who said in 2017 they could not afford a meal with meat, fish, chicken or a vegetarian equivalent every second day decreased year on year the most in Bulgaria (-2.9 pp), Romania (-2.8 pp) and Hungary (-2.7 pp) but increased in Spain, Lithuania and Slovenia (+0.8 for all three countries). The other Member States showed smaller year on year changes (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 2017 data are broadly consistent with the situation in the previous years (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, Croatia, Hungary, Cyprus and Latvia 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 Norway, follwed by the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and Finland.
Significant changes in 2017 compared to 2016:
- major decreases in the proportion of people who had ‘difficulty’ or ‘great difficulty’ in making ends meet ('Low' ability) in Spain (-10.6 pp), Cyprus (-9.5 pp), Croatia (-7.4 pp), Romania (-6.8 pp), and Italy (-5.7 pp); and
- in the proportion of people who could make ends meet ‘easily’ or ‘very easily‘ ('High' ability) a substantial decrease in Finland (-5.7 pp) and smaller increases in Cyprus (+3.4 pp), Malta (+3.3 pp), Denmark (+2.3 pp) and Romania (+1.7 pp) .
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 in the section on ‘Data sources’. 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 22 countries as early indicators, for Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Latvia, Hungary and Finland the values are already final.
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 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 during the spring of the year following the survey year and cover three quarters of the Member States. To supplement the early data on material deprivation Eurostat develops flash estimates of the main EU-SILC indicators as experimental statistics.
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. Meantime the flash estimates could feed the preliminary discussions and analysis until the final EU-SILC data is released
- 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)
- 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 (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
- EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions.
- Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Latvia, Hungary, and Finland
- the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.
- More information can be found in the national quality reports