Material deprivation statistics – financial stress and lack of durables
Data extracted in July 2016
No planned update of this article due to that it is based on an ad-hoc module
In 2014, 27 % of children under 16 in the EU were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, compared with 25 % of adults aged between 16 and 64, and 18 % of the elderly (aged 65 or over).
In 2014, 17 % of people in the EU aged 16 and over could not afford to replace worn-out clothes.
In 2014, 41 % of children in the EU lived in overcrowded dwellings.
This article presents a brief analysis of several different material deprivation items (collected as part of the 2014 EU-SILC ad-hoc module as well as annual SILC) which relate to households (as a whole), adults (people aged 16 and over) and children (all household members aged between 1 and 15). Observed items, among others, are related to financial stress and durables as well as leisure and social activities as part of a broader perspective of social inclusion.
The analyses used for the article cover all EU Member States and some non-EU Member States.
In 2014, 27.4% of children aged below 16 in the EU-28 were at risk of poverty or social exclusion (AROPE) compared with 25.5% of adults aged between 16 and 64, and 17.7% of the elderly (aged 65 or over).
The main EU-SILC indicators (Europe 2020 target on poverty and social exclusion) measure living conditions using general indicators of the household as a whole and are based on the assumption that the resources are equally shared among all household members.
This part of the article focuses on two material deprivation items – meals and lack of space, and on the household’s (in)ability to afford them for the children and (or) for all its members.
In 2014, based on the EU-SILC survey, 13.2% of children were living in households which could not afford a meal with protein (containing meat, fish or vegetarian equivalent) for all children at least once a day.
Figure 1 shows that the highest proportion of children among the EU Member States who lived in households which could not afford one meal with protein at least once a day for all children, were recorded in Bulgaria (42.4 %), Hungary (22.0 %) and Romania (21.6 %), while the lowest proportions of children who lived in such households were observed in Sweden, Finland and Denmark (0.0 %, 0.2 % and 0.7 % respectively).
Moreover, 14.9% of children in the EU lived in households which could not afford a meal with protein for all its members (adults and children) at least every second day.
Lack of space
In 2014, 40.7% of children in the EU lived in overcrowded dwellings. Also, 14.1% of children lived in households which could not afford a suitable place- a desk or table for them to study or do homework.
Table 1 shows that in Romania and Hungary, over 80% (81.8% and 81.4% respectively) of children lived in overcrowded dwellings and were also at risk of poverty. Moreover, in Romania, around 64.3% of children lived in overcrowded dwellings and were not at risk of poverty. The lowest proportions of children (below 5%) who lived in overcrowded dwellings were in Belgium (2.7%), Cyprus (2.9%), Ireland and the Netherlands (both 4.1% ).
Among the EU Member States, Bulgaria was the country with the highest percentage (64.0%) of children who lived in households at risk of poverty and did not have space to study due to financial reasons. On the contrary, Finland had the lowest share (3.4%) of children who lived in households with the aforementioned characteristics.
The proportion of children who lived in households which were not at risk of poverty, but who could still not afford a space for school-age children was relatively high for Bulgaria (28.1%), Romania (18.0%) and Greece (17.4%). However, in the majority of the EU and non-EU Member States less than 4% of children fell within this category.
Since the shares of children who lived in overcrowded dwellings for most EU-28 countries were relatively high (at EU28 level - 36.5% in households not at risk of poverty and 54.6% in households at risk of poverty), the aim of the analysis was to see if the lack of space (a desk or table) for studying and doing homework for school-aged children is linked to a lack of space in general.
Analysis showed that the majority of people lived in dwellings which were not overcrowded and where suitable space existed. However, in Belgium and Bulgaria almost one in ten households was not living in an overcrowded dwelling but still did not have a desk or table to study for children (see Table 2). The opposite was observed in Hungary, Latvia and Poland, where more than half of the people lived in overcrowded dwellings but with a desk or table for school-aged children to study or do their homework (57.3%, 54.4% and 52.2% respectively).
Inter- and intra-generational differences
The aim of this part of the article is to apply a broader perspective of material deprivation, i.e. the inability to afford a selection of items (goods or services) and if this pattern still exists when we observe it at personal level.
To adequately measure children’s material deprivation, it is necessary to look not only at the material deprivation that solely affects children but also at the material deprivation that affects the entire household as this is likely to impact their living conditions. Consequently, the aim of this part of the analysis is to apply a broader perspective of material deprivation using both individual and household level.
New clothes and two pairs of shoes
In 2014, 16.7% of people in the EU aged 16 and over could not afford to replace worn-out clothes by some new (not second-hand) ones  and 18.9% of people of the same age could not afford two pairs of properly fitting shoes (including a pair of all-weather shoes) (see Figure 2).
The highest proportion of people who could not afford to replace worn-out clothes with new ones was observed in Bulgaria (42.4%), Romania (31.6%) and Hungary (29.6%), and the lowest in Greece (1.3%) and Sweden (2.2%).
Infograph 1 shows the percentages of people in the EU aged 16 and over who could not afford new clothes, by gender. In almost all of the EU-28 Member States, women were less likely to be able to replace clothes than men regardless of the reasons (financial or non-financial). More precisely, at EU28 level – 17.6% women and 15.7% of men were not able to afford new clothes. Only in Spain and Ireland, the percentage of men was slightly higher than the percentage of women.
Figure 3 shows both intra-generational and gender differences. The analysis shows that the severe material deprivation rate at household level, in total, for the age group 25-34 was the lowest, while the age group 65 and over had the highest rate. Yet the largest proportion of persons aged 25-34 could afford new clothes.
When it comes to gender differences, for all age groups except for people aged 18-24, women were less likely to be able to afford new clothes than men. The proportion of women who could not afford new clothes was slightly increasing with age. The proportion of women was 14.0% for the age group 18-24, while for those aged 65 and over, it was 22.2%.
Figure 4 shows that around 8.9% of people in the EU aged 16 and over could not afford new clothes for themselves but their household could afford them for the children. In addition, 6.9% of people in the EU aged 16 and over could not afford two pairs of shoes for themselves but their household could afford them for the children. Moreover, it was observed that in 10.6% of households, neither adults nor children could afford clothes, while for shoes the figure was 14.2%.
Regular participation in a leisure activity (both for children and adults) refers to activities such as sports, cinema, concerts, etc. occurring outside home and costing money:
- For entrance and/or travel costs (e.g. swimming),
- For purchase costs (e.g. riding a bicycle) or
- For participating costs in an organised play event (e.g. football club fees) .
Table 3 shows the inter-generational differences when it comes to the ability to afford leisure activities for household members belonging to different age groups at EU level. Compared to the ability to afford new clothes, far fewer people lived in households where both observed person and children could afford regular leisure activities (35.3% at EU level). The lowest proportion of households where both adults and children could participate in paid leisure activities was observed in Romania (8.5%) and Bulgaria (15.8%), and the highest in Ireland (77.5%) and the Netherlands (69.3%).
In Greece and Hungary, over 20% of adults could not afford regular leisure activities, but they lived in households which could afford it for the children (23.1% and 21.4% respectively); while in Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic, these shares were below 3% (1.3%, 2.0% and 2.3% respectively).
Spending a small amount of money without consulting with someone in the household
In 2014, 25.2% of women and 23.0% of men in the EU aged 16 and over could not afford to spend a small amount of money on themselves without consulting with someone inside the household.
The inability for persons aged 16 and over (further in text – adults) to freely spend money each week on themselves (e.g. to go to the movies, to buy a gift for a friend, to go to the hairdresser, etc.) without consulting with someone inside the household, could show possible intra-household (dis)allocation of resources.
Figure 5 shows that among both EU and non-EU Member States (except Denmark where the percentages are the same for both sexes: 9.0%), women were more vulnerable; i.e. more women than men could not afford to spend money freely.
Observing gender differences, neither the age nor the level of education changes the pattern – in all cases women were less likely to spend small amounts of money without consulting someone from their household. Women were also more deprived if they did not live with a partner in the same household (at EU level).
Living in a household which is at-risk-of-poverty increases the inability of spending money without consulting with someone from their household (see Table 4). In all observed countries, the proportions of adults who were not able to freely spend money were higher for those who lived in households which were at risk of poverty compared to those who did not (20.0% in not at-risk and 44.6% in at-risk-of poverty households, at EU level).
In Romania and Bulgaria the proportion of adults who were not able to spend money without consulting with someone inside their household regardless of monetary poverty was relatively high compared to other EU Member States (48.1% and 33.0% for those in not at-risk and 77.4% and 70.2% for those in at-risk-of-poverty households respectively). The lowest share was observed in Finland where only around 1.4% of adults in total were not able to spend a small amount of money without consulting someone (1.2% in not at-risk and 2.1% in at-risk-of poverty households).
The education level plays a significant role when it comes to the ability to spend money independently (see Infograph 2), although it does not affect the gender differences. In all countries, people with the lowest attained education level had the highest inability to freely spend money.
The smallest differences between low and high educated people were noted in Estonia and Denmark, while countries with the biggest differences were Luxembourg and the Czech Republic. The lowest share of low educated adults who could not spend money without consulting someone was noted in Finland (1.5%) and the highest in Romania (70.3%). Moreover, the highest share of highly educated people who could not spend money without consulting someone was observed in Greece (25.6%) and the lowest in Finland (0.8%).
Source data for tables and graphs
Data sources and availability
The data used in this section is primarily derived from the EU-SILC. The EU-SILC is carried out annually and is the main survey that measures income and living conditions in Europe. It is the main source of information used to link different aspects of 'Quality of Life' at household and individual level.
Material deprivation refers to several different material deprivation items (as part of 2014 SILC ad-hoc module) which relate to households (as a whole), adults (people aged 16 and over) and children (all household members aged between 1 and 15). Observed items, among others, are related to financial stress and durables as well as leisure and social activities as part of a broader perspective of social inclusion.
Income refers to income levels (‘Mean and median income by age and sex’), monetary poverty (‘at-risk-of-poverty rate (AROP) by poverty threshold and age’). Material conditions refer to material deprivation (‘severely materially deprived’ people). Material deprivation ad-hoc module refers to an additional set of variables conducted in 2014 survey year.
The size of the initial sample is reduced based on the number of households which do not have children of this age. Also, some items could be inapplicable or answers could be missing, which reduces the sample again. When it comes to data collected at personal level (taking into account the characteristics of the information), only personal interviews are allowed. This means that proxy interviews are not taken into account which, in some cases, could reduce the size of the sample used in calculations.
At the Laeken European Council in December 2001, European heads of state and government endorsed a first set of common statistical indicators for social exclusion and poverty that are subject to a continuing process of refinement by the indicators sub-group (ISG) of the social protection committee (SPC). These indicators are an essential element in the open method of coordination (OMC) to monitor the progress made by the EU’s Member States in alleviating poverty and social exclusion.
EU-SILC is the reference source for EU statistics on income and living conditions and, in particular, for indicators concerning social inclusion. In the context of the Europe 2020 strategy, the European Council adopted in June 2010 a headline target for social inclusion — namely, that by 2020 there should be at least 20 million fewer people in the EU at risk of poverty or social exclusion than there were in 2008. The EU-SILC is the source used to monitor progress towards this headline target, which is measured through an indicator that combines the at-risk-of-poverty rate, the severe material deprivation rate, and the proportion of people living in households with very low work intensity — see the article on social inclusion statistics for more information.
- Income and living conditions (t_ilc)
- At-risk-of-poverty rate by poverty threshold, age and sex - EU-SILC survey (ilc_li02)
- Material deprivation, see:
- Material deprivation by dimension (ilc_mddd)
- [People at risk of poverty or social exclusion (Europe 2020 strategy) - Statistics in focus 9/2012], see:
- Main indicator – Europe 2020 target on poverty and social exclusion (ils_peps)
- Living conditions in Europe — 2014 edition - Statistical books
- European social statistics — 2013 edition - Statistical books
- Income and living conditions in Europe — 2010 edition - Statistical books
- Combating poverty and social exclusion. A statistical portrait of the European Union 2010 - Statistical books
- The life of women and men in Europe — A statistical portrait - Statistical books
- The risk of poverty or social exclusion affected 1 in 4 persons in the EU in 2014 - News releases
- More than 120 million persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2013 - News releases
Statistics in focus
- Income inequality: nearly 40 per cent of total income goes to people belonging to highest (fifth) quintile - Statistics in focus 12/2014
- Is the likelihood of poverty inherited? - Statistics in focus 27/2013
- Living standards falling in most Member States - Statistics in focus 8/2013
- Children were the age group at the highest risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2011 - Statistics in focus 4/2013
- 23 % of EU citizens were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2010 - Statistics in focus 9/2012
- Income and living conditions (ESMS metadata file — ilc_esms)
- Comparative EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions: Issues and Challenges (Proceedings of the International Conference on EU Comparative Statistics on Income and Living Conditions, Helsinki, 6–8 November 2006)
- Individual employment, household employment and risk of poverty in the EU — A decomposition analysis (2013 edition)
- Statistical matching of EU-SILC and the Household Budget Survey to compare poverty estimates using income, expenditures and material deprivation (2013 edition)
- Using EUROMOD to nowcast poverty risk in the European Union (2013 edition)
- Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 of 16 June 2003 concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC)
- Summaries of EU Legislation: EU statistics on income and living conditions
- Age refers to the age at the end of the income reference period.
- Further in text, term “children” refers to children aged between 1 and 15 with this specific rule: If at least one child does not have the item in question, the whole group of children in the household is assumed to not have the item either. On the other hand, information on basic needs as well as leisure and social activities for adults is provided for each household member aged 16 and over.
- Most of the new item were collected at personal level. This allows analysis at individual level and to also get, to a certain extent, information on intra-household deprivation.
- Term “space” refers to a suitable place for children (going to school) to study or do their homework.
- Further in the text, term “clothes” refers to new (not second-hand) clothes.
- Further in the text, term "shoes" refers to two pairs of properly fitting shoes including a pair of all-weather shoes.
- Further in text will be used term “leisure activities” instead.
- Further in text, term “freely spend money” refers to money which could be spent each week without consulting with someone inside the household.
- Educational levels refer to ISCED 2011 classification where low education corresponds to ED00-20 (early childhood education, less than primary, primary and lower secondary education), middle education corresponds to ED30-40 (upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education) and high education corresponds to ED50-80 (short cycle tertiary, bachelor or equivalent, master or equivalent, doctorate or equivalent).