Living conditions in Europe - introduction - Statistics Explained

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Living conditions in Europe - introduction

Data extracted in November 2017

This introduction is part of a set of statistical articles that forms Eurostat’s flagship publication, Living conditions in Europe - 2018 edition. Each article helps to provide a comprehensive and up-to-date summary of living conditions in Europe, presenting some key results from the European Union’s (EU’s) statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC), which is conducted across EU Member States, EFTA and candidate countries.

This is the second edition of the publication: it was initially released as a paper only publication in 2015 (cat. no. KS-DZ-14-001). Readers should note that while almost all of the statistical sources used in Living conditions in Europe — 2018 edition have been revised since its initial 2015 release, this was not the case for a couple of ad-hoc surveys which have not been repeated since the initial release.

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Policy background

Since the launch of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, the importance of income and living conditions statistics has grown rapidly. Indeed, one of the five Europe 2020 headline targets is related to povery and social inclusion and consists of lifting at least 20 million people in the EU from the risk of poverty or social exclusion by 2020.

The social consequences of the global financial and economic crisis gave even more importance to data on income and living conditions. One example concerns the creation of a reference framework for monitoring performance through the European pillar of social rights.

The social investment package adopted in February 2013, urged countries to put more emphasis on social investment to achieve the Europe 2020 targets, and also led to increased demand for timely and reliable data on the social situation in Europe.

Finally, the Beyond GDP debate has drawn attention for the need to complement gross domestic product (GDP) measures with indicators that encompass social (and environmental) aspects of progress.

Guide to this online publication

EU statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) are the main data source used within this online publication for a comparative analysis of income and living conditions in the EU; they also provide information in order to analyse various aspects of social exclusion.

This online publication aims to present a comprehensive picture of current living conditions in Europe. Different aspects of living conditions are covered through a broad selection of indicators reflecting socio-economic conditions that affect the everyday lives of Europeans. The main aspects concern income, poverty and social exclusion, material deprivation and housing conditions, as well as health and labour conditions, social participation and social integration. It is divided into eight articles, each focusing on different aspects of living conditions.

The publication starts by presenting the financial dimensions of poverty and inequality and covers key income-based statistics and indicators reflecting disparities in the distribution of monetary resources. It moves on to analyse how poverty and social exclusion and material deprivation and economic strain can impact on the ability of people to have an adequate standard of living. In the subsequent section, use is made of EU-SILC data to illustrate a range of issues in relation to housing, presenting information on actual dwellings as well as the local environment that surrounds them. This is followed by an analysis of the impact that socio-economic factors may have on people’s living standards, for example, the influence of their labour market status, their health status or childcare arrangements. The publication closes with information on social participation and integration, for example, detailing the share of people who are active citizens, the share of people that participate in volunteering activities, or the frequency with which people interact with their friends and/or family.

The data used in the publication were drawn from Eurostat’s dissemination database during the period from 23 October to 3 November 2017 and cover all 28 Member States of the EU; subject to data availability, information is also presented for EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and candidate countries (Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Serbia and Turkey). The majority of the indicators come from EU-SILC data set and are generally available up until 2016. Some specific aspects of the analysis refer to earlier reference periods, for example: the 2012 EU-SILC ad-hoc module for data on housing; the 2013 EU-SILC ad-hoc module on personal well-being; the 2014 EU-SILC ad-hoc module on material deprivation; and the 2015 EU-SILC ad-hoc module on social and cultural participation. Apart from the data derived from EU-SILC, use was also made of two additional sources — national accounts and harmonised indices of consumer prices (HICP) — the former provides information pertaining to the structure of household consumption expenditure, while the latter was used to deflate income statistics so an analysis of income developments in real terms could be made.

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