Urban Europe — statistics on cities, towns and suburbs — poverty and social exclusion in cities

Data extracted in February–April 2016

Highlights


The highest rate of risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU was recorded among people living in rural areas (27.1 %), followed by people living in cities (24.3 %) and those living in towns and suburbs (22.3 %).

Proportion of the population at risk of poverty or social exclusion, by degree of urbanisation, 2014
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_peps13)

This chapter is part of an online publication that is based on Eurostat’s flagship publication Urban Europe — statistics on cities, towns and suburbs (which also exists as a PDF).

Definitions of territorial units

The various territorial units that are presented within Urban Europe — statistics on cities, towns and suburbs are described in more detail within the introduction. Readers are encouraged to read this carefully in order to help their understanding and interpretation of the data presented in the remainder of the publication.

Full article

Poverty and social exclusion in cities

At their most basic level, cities are social constructs whereby larger groups of people live, work and trade together, so they may exchange ideas and beliefs, share common experiences, and participate in social networks that allow them to satisfy their needs for housing, education, employment and a wider range of needs and desires. Cities have always been centres of opportunity, but at the same time they frequently provide a focal point for social problems.

Patterns of urban development have resulted in the historical centre and traditional role of some cities being modified, as residents and economic activities have moved to suburban locations, accelerating the process of urban sprawl and leaving behind pockets of inner-city decay. Poverty and social exclusion appear to fester in these neighbourhoods and their presence is reinforced through a cycle of deprivation as poverty and social exclusion are passed from one generation to the next through inequalities for health, education and housing that result in lower life chances.

European platform against poverty and social exclusion

The European platform against poverty and social exclusion is one of seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth; combatting poverty and social exclusion are at the heart of the European Union’s (EU’s) pledge to lift at least 20 million people from poverty or social exclusion by 2020.

The platform aims to deliver action to fight poverty across the policy spectrum (for example, in relation to the labour market, minimum income support, healthcare, education, housing, or access to services). It has been designed to make better use of EU funding to deliver on social cohesion/inclusion, by developing an evidence-based approach to social policy innovations, working in partnership with civil society and the EU Member States to enhance policy coordination and build on the legacy of the 2010 European year for combatting poverty and social exclusion.

For more information:http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=961.

As compared with towns, suburbs or rural areas, cities in western EU Member States are often found to be among the least inclusive, as witnessed by their relatively high shares of people living at risk of poverty, high shares of people living in low work intensity households, or high unemployment rates. While these cities are often characterised by higher standards of living — as measured by GDP per inhabitant — they are also characterised by considerable income inequality. By contrast, people living in cities in the eastern EU Member States are generally less likely to face poverty and social exclusion than those in rural areas.

Poverty and social exclusion by degree of urbanisation

In 2014, there were 122 million people in the EU-28 who were at risk of poverty or social exclusion; this equated to almost one in four (24.4 %) of the population, which was a higher share than at the onset of the global financial and economic crisis. The EU’s target is to remove 20 million people from poverty and social exclusion by 2020.

There were 34 million people living in EU cities who were at risk of poverty or social exclusion

Figure 1 looks at the broad concept of those people who were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. In 2014, there were 34.0 million people living in cities in the EU-28 who faced such a risk, while the corresponding figures for those living in towns and suburbs (24.2 million) and rural areas (27.9 million) were somewhat lower. In relative terms, the highest risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU-28 was recorded among people living in rural areas (27.1 %), some 2.8 percentage points higher than the share recorded for people living in cities (24.3 %) and 4.8 points higher than the share for those living in towns and suburbs (22.3 %).

Defining poverty and social exclusion

Poverty can be defined in different ways: at an aggregated level there are two main categories, relative and absolute poverty. The former occurs when people’s income and resources prevent them from having a standard of living that is considered low for the society in which they live, it is the more widespread form of poverty in the EU. Absolute or extreme poverty is characterised by severe deprivation of basic human needs, for example, a lack of food, water, sanitation facilities, health or education; extreme poverty is generally much less common in the EU.

People at risk of poverty or social exclusion are classified in accordance with three distinct criteria, but only need to have one of these situations to be considered as part of this subgroup. The three criteria are:

  • people at risk of poverty — defined here as those with a disposable income that is below the risk of poverty threshold (set at 60 % of national median equivalised disposable income, after social transfers);
  • people who are considered severely materially deprived — defined here to include those people who are unable to pay for at least four out of the following nine items: i) rent or utility bills, ii) adequate home heating, iii) unexpected expenses, iv) meat, fish or a protein equivalent every second day, v) a week’s holiday away from home, vi) a car, vii) a washing machine, viii) a colour television, or ix) a telephone;
  • people living in households with very low work intensity — defined here as those aged 0–59 who are living in households where the adults (aged 18–59) worked no more than 20 % of their total work potential during the past year.

The share of the population that was at risk of poverty or social exclusion was particularly high among those people living in cities in much of western Europe, while in eastern and southern parts of the EU it was more common to find the highest incidences of the risk of poverty or social exclusion among those living in rural areas. In 2014, there were seven EU Member States where the share of the population that was at risk of poverty or social exclusion was highest among those living in cities: the Netherlands, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark and Austria. As such, although cities in western Europe were generally more affluent, they were also characterised by a greater risk of poverty or social exclusion.

Figure 1: Proportion of the population at risk of poverty or social exclusion, by degree of urbanisation, 2014
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_peps13)

Table 1 and Figures 2 and 3 provide more information on the three individual criteria that together cover all forms of poverty and social exclusion. The left half of Table 1 shows the share of the population who were at risk of poverty according to the degree of urbanisation, while the right half shows the share of the total population with an income that was less than 60 % of the median equivalised level, in other words, the share of the total population living below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold.

In 2014, the share of the EU-28 population that was at risk of poverty was 17.3 %, with around two fifths of the total population living below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold found to be living in cities, one third living in rural areas and the remaining share (just over a quarter) in towns and suburbs. These figures are influenced by the distribution of the population between the different degrees of urbanisation, with a higher share of the EU-28 population living in urban areas rather than rural areas. When looking at the individual subpopulations living in each of these areas, just over one fifth (20.2 %) of those living in rural areas of the EU-28 were found to be at risk of poverty, while the corresponding shares for people living in cities (16.4 %) and towns and suburbs (15.8 %) were somewhat lower.

In 2014, there were wide disparities across the EU Member States as regards those areas where the risk of poverty tended to be concentrated. The highest at-risk-of-poverty rate in the western EU Member States of Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and the United Kingdom was recorded among those living in cities. The share of the population living in Austrian cities who were at risk of poverty was 2.0 times as high as the share among people living in rural areas, while the same ratio in Belgium was 1.6 : 1. France, Cyprus and Luxembourg were the only Member States to report their highest at-risk-of-poverty rate among those living in towns and suburbs, while the highest at-risk-of-poverty rate in the remaining 19 Member States was recorded among people living in rural areas. The at-risk-of-poverty rate among people living in the rural areas of Romania and Hungary was more than three times as high as the corresponding rate recorded among those living in cities, while in Malta (data of low reliability), Bulgaria, Poland and Lithuania people living in rural areas were more than twice as likely as those living in cities to be at risk of poverty.

Note that thresholds that are used to define the share of the population at risk of poverty are based on national median incomes and that some cities are relatively expensive places to live, where incomes and the cost of living may be considerably higher than the norm; this is frequently the case in capital cities.

Table 1: Proportion of the population at risk of poverty and proportion of the total population with less than 60 % of the median income, by degree of urbanisation, 2014
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_li43) and (ilc_lvho01)


Severe material deprivation was relatively low in western EU Member States, however, it often presented a considerable challenge in urban (compared with rural) areas

In 2014, some 9.3 % of the EU-28 population living in cities faced severe material deprivation. While the rate recorded for those living in rural areas was somewhat higher (9.8 %), the share of the EU-28 population living in towns and suburbs and being affected by severe material deprivation was considerably lower, at 7.8 %.

There was almost no sign of severe material deprivation in the Nordic Member States, Luxembourg or the Netherlands. On the other hand, the highest severe material deprivation rates were generally recorded in the eastern and southern EU Member States, as well as the Baltic Member States.

In 2014, just over one quarter (25.9 %) of the population living in Bulgarian cities experienced severe material deprivation, while the same issues touched at least one in five city-dwellers from Romania (21.4 %) and Greece (21.2 %); note that the severe material deprivation rate was higher for the rural population in all three of these EU Member States.

Although relatively low shares of the population living in cities in the Netherlands and Sweden experienced severe material deprivation, the proportion of city-dwellers facing these issues was at least four times as high as among those living in rural areas, a ratio that rose to 6.6 times as high in Austria (where the share of city-dwellers experiencing severe material deprivation was 7.9 % compared with 1.2 % for those living in rural areas). It was relatively common to find that severe material deprivation was much higher in the cities of (the more developed) western EU Member States than in their rural areas. In Belgium, Ireland, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Austria, severe material deprivation in cities was 4.0–6.0 percentage points higher than in rural areas.

Figure 2: Proportion of the population facing severe material deprivation, by degree of urbanisation, 2014
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_mddd23)

The share of households with a very low level of work intensity was higher in cities

Having a job is no guarantee against facing the risk of poverty, as temporary and part-time work or zero hours contracts are just some examples of the flexible nature of labour markets. Since the global financial and economic crisis there has been an increase in the number of working poor within the EU (many of whom are living in cities), as some members of the workforce have had to face a reduction in their real wages and purchasing power.

The third criterion used to analyse the risk of poverty or social exclusion is the proportion of people aged 0–59 who are living in a household with a very low level of work intensity (no more than 20 % of their total work potential) — see Figure 3. An analysis by degree of urbanisation reveals that the highest share of households with very low work intensity was recorded for those living in EU-28 cities (12.5 %), while approximately 1 in 10 of the EU’s population in towns and suburbs (10.1 %) and rural areas (10.3 %) were living in households with very low work intensity. As such, although cities accounted for a high concentration of jobs, as witnessed by the influx of commuters into most urban agglomerations each morning, they were somewhat paradoxically also home to a high share of households with very low work intensity. This may, at least in part, be due to a skills mismatch, the precarious nature of some jobs, the relatively high share of single-parent households in cities (some of whom face difficulties in balancing work and caring for children), or the relatively high proportion of residents born outside the EU living in cities (extra-EU migrants are less likely to be employed).

The share of households with very low work intensity was often higher in the cities of western Europe. By contrast, in southern and eastern EU Member States, city-dwellers were generally less likely to live in a household with very low work intensity, when compared with their compatriots living in rural areas. The challenge apparent in western European cities was particularly pronounced in Belgium and Ireland, where slightly more than one in five persons living in a city inhabited a household with very low work intensity. The biggest differences between city-dwellers and those living in rural areas were recorded in Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Austria; in the latter, the share of city-dwellers living in a household with very low work intensity was 10.2 percentage points higher than for people living in rural areas.

Figure 3: Proportion of the population aged 0–59 living in households with very low work intensity, by degree of urbanisation, 2014
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_lvhl23)

In western EU Member States, people living in cities were often three to four times as likely to be living in overcrowded conditions as those living in rural areas

Poverty and social exclusion affect a range of inequalities that touch upon everyday lives, this next section covers one such issue — housing; note that more general information on housing in cities is presented in Chapter 10. Home ownership does not prevent poverty: there are many pensioners in the EU who have paid off their mortgage and might appear to have no housing costs. However, their incomes may be so low that they are unable to pay for the costs of any necessary repairs or for heating during winter months. Likewise, social housing and housing allowances/benefits constitute a buffer against the effects of poverty, but they do not preclude people from living in poverty or in substandard buildings. Some sections of the population are particularly exposed to housing poverty, including: workless households, migrants, single people, people renting their accommodation and those living in particularly large cities.

Figure 4 presents information on overcrowding for 2014, with the highest rate in the EU-28 recorded for people living in cities (18.3 %), which is perhaps unsurprising given the premium for the price of land and the lack of space for new developments. This pattern was broadly repeated when analysing the results by degree of urbanisation for the EU Member States, as cities recorded the highest overcrowding rate in 22 of the 28 Member States. The only exceptions were Croatia, Latvia and Slovakia (where the highest overcrowding rates were recorded for people living in towns and suburbs) and Cyprus, Hungary and Poland (where the highest overcrowding rates were recorded for people living in rural areas).

Defining overcrowding and severe housing deprivation

The overcrowding rate is the share of the population living in overcrowded households. A person is considered to be living in an overcrowded household if the household does not have at its disposal a minimum number of rooms equal to:

  • one room for the household;
  • one room per couple in the household;
  • one room for each single person aged 18 or more;
  • one room per pair of single people of the same gender between 12 and 17 years of age;
  • one room for each single person between 12 and 17 years of age and not included in the previous category;
  • one room per pair of children under 12 years of age.

The severe housing deprivation rate is defined as the percentage of population living in a dwelling which is considered as overcrowded, while also exhibiting at least one of the housing deprivation measures. Housing deprivation is a measure of poor amenities and is calculated by referring to those households with: a leaking roof, no bath/shower and no indoor toilet, or a dwelling considered too dark.

The highest overcrowding rates tended to be recorded in eastern EU Member States, for example, more than half of the population in Romania was living in an overcrowded property in 2014. The highest overcrowding rates in cities were also recorded in eastern parts of the EU, for example, both Romania and Bulgaria reported that more than half of their city-dwellers were living in overcrowded conditions. However, a comparison between overcrowding rates in cities and rural areas reveals that a relatively high proportion of city-dwellers in some western European countries were living in overcrowded conditions: the overcrowding rates in cities were three to four times as high as in rural areas in Austria, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Ireland and France (where this ratio peaked at 4.0); Switzerland (2013 data) also recorded a relatively high proportion of its city-dwellers living in overcrowded dwellings compared with the situation for people living in rural areas.

Figure 4: Overcrowding rate, by degree of urbanisation, 2014
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_lvho05d)

1 in 20 city-dwellers in the EU-28 faced severe housing deprivation

Figure 5 shows that in 2014 the highest levels of severe housing deprivation in the EU-28 were recorded in rural areas (6.6 %), followed by cities (5.0 %), while those living in towns and suburbs were less likely to face severe housing deprivation (3.9 %).

As with most of the other indicators in this chapter, the highest shares of severe housing deprivation were generally recorded in the eastern and southern EU Member States, where severe housing deprivation was often concentrated in rural areas, while lower rates tended to be recorded in most of western Europe, where severe housing deprivation was more apparent in cities.

Figure 5: Severe housing deprivation rate, by degree of urbanisation, 2014
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_mdho06d)

Unexploited education and training opportunities

Educational qualifications are often cited as being one of the best guarantees against unemployment, especially for those who are trying to make their first steps in the labour market. One of the headline Europe 2020 indicators concerns the share of early leavers from education and training — defined as the proportion of 18–24 year-olds with at most a lower secondary level of education and who are no longer in further education or training; the Europe 2020 target for early leavers from education and training has been set at 10 %.

Figure 6 provides an analysis of early leavers from education and training by degree of urbanisation and reveals that across the EU-28 the highest share of early leavers in 2014 was recorded among young people living in rural areas (12.4 %), while the lowest share was recorded for those living in cities (10.0 %); note these differences may, at least in part, reflect the distribution of further and higher education establishments which tend to be located in urban areas.

In the cities of Croatia, Slovakia and Bulgaria, the share of early leavers from education and training was less than 4.0 %

In 2014, a majority of the 27 EU Member States for which data are available (Lithuania, incomplete data) reported that their lowest rate of early leavers from education and training was among those young persons aged 18–24 living in cities. Their share was less than 5.0 % in Estonia, Ireland, the Czech Republic and Poland, falling to less than 4.0 % in Croatia and Slovakia (both 2013 data), as well as Bulgaria — where the lowest rate of early leavers among those living in cities was recorded, at 3.3 % (see Figure 7).

The gap between the share of early leavers living in cities and in rural areas was particularly pronounced in Bulgaria, as alongside the lowest rate of early leavers in cities it also recorded the joint highest share of early leavers from education and training in rural areas (29.2 %); the same rate was registered for rural areas in Romania. Indeed, many of the eastern and southern Member States recorded a relatively high share of early leavers from education and training in rural areas and (to a lesser degree) in towns and suburbs, in stark contrast to relatively low rates in cities.

An analysis by degree of urbanisation reveals that the highest shares of early leavers from education and training in Malta, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg (2012 data), Austria and Slovenia were registered among those aged 18–24 who were living in cities, while the United Kingdom, France, Ireland and the Czech Republic were the only EU Member States to report their highest share of early leavers among those living in towns and suburbs. As such, many of the western Member States reported their highest rates of early leavers in urban areas.

Figure 6: Proportion of the population aged 18–24 who were early leavers from education and training, by degree of urbanisation, 2014
(%)
Source: Eurostat (edat_lfse_30)

In 2014, the share of early leavers from education and training in EU-28 cities was higher among men (11.4 %) than women (8.6 %). This gender gap was evident for all but two of the 26 EU Member States for which data are available (no data for Lithuania and Slovakia), the exceptions being Hungary and Slovenia (2012 data), where the male rate for early leavers was only slightly lower than the female rate.

The gender gap for early leavers from education and training in cities peaked at 10.3 percentage points in Cyprus (2013 data) and was also relatively wide in a number of southern and northern EU Member States, principally, Spain — where the rate for men was 6.0 points higher than that for women — Latvia (5.1 points difference; 2012 data), Estonia (4.6 points; 2012 data), Finland (4.4 points), Malta (4.2 points) and Italy (4.1 points).

Figure 7: Proportion of the population aged 18–24 who were early leavers from education and training in cities, by sex, 2014 (1)
(%)
Source: Eurostat (edat_lfse_30)

A high proportion of young people living in Austrian and Belgian cities were neither in employment nor in education and training

An analysis of the labour market is provided in Figure 8 which shows the share of young people aged 15–34 who were neither in employment nor in education and training (NEET). In 2014, this share peaked at 18.3 % in the rural areas of the EU-28 in 2014, while it was somewhat lower in towns and suburbs (17.0 %) and particularly in cities (15.3 %). Once again these figures may reflect, at least to some degree, the concentration of educational establishments in urban areas.

The highest NEET rates among the EU Member States were often recorded in those most affected by the global financial and economic crisis, for example, Italy, Greece, Spain and Cyprus. In all four of these Member States there were somewhat lower NEET rates in cities and towns and suburbs than in rural areas.

The NEET rates for young people aged 15–34 living in the cities of several western EU Member States were higher than those recorded for rural areas. The difference was 2.0–3.0 percentage points in the Netherlands, France, Luxembourg, Germany and the United Kingdom, rising to 5.0 points in Austria and peaking at 8.1 points in Belgium. These figures provide further evidence of a recurrent theme, namely, that while cities appear to offer opportunities (in relative terms compared with rural areas) of lower poverty and social exclusion and higher education and employment opportunities in many of the eastern and southern Member States, the reverse seems to be true in many western Member States.

Figure 8: Proportion of young people aged 15–34 neither in employment nor in education and training, by degree of urbanisation, 2014
(%)
Source: Eurostat (edat_lfse_29)

Young women were more likely to be neither in employment nor in education and training

A gender breakdown for the proportion of young people aged 15–34 living in cities and neither in employment nor in education and training is provided in Figure 9. It shows that in 2014 a higher proportion of young women in the EU-28 were classified as NEET (17.9 %) compared with young men (12.7 %). Note that the NEET rate for women may be higher than that for men as a result of a higher proportion of women taking a break from their studies/career in order to raise a family.

This gender gap for the NEET rate was repeated in 25 of the EU Member States and rose to more than 10 percentage points in Hungary, Slovakia, Malta and the Czech Republic. Cyprus, Luxembourg and Croatia were the only EU Member States where the share of young men classified as NEET was higher than the corresponding share for young women; the difference in each case was less than 1.0 percentage points.

Figure 9: Proportion of young people aged 15–34 living in cities and neither in employment nor in education and training, by sex, 2014
(%)
Source: Eurostat (edat_lfse_29)

Unemployment

In 2014, the EU-28 unemployment rate (among those aged 15–74) stood at 10.2 % in 2014. An analysis by degree of urbanisation reveals that the unemployment rate (10.9 %) for people living in cities was higher than that recorded for towns and suburbs or for rural areas (9.8 % in both).

An urban paradox exists in some cities with a high concentration of job opportunities alongside a large number of disengaged people who remain outside the labour market

It is something of a paradox that unemployment rates in the EU-28 were higher in cities, considering that cities provide the nucleus around which most of Europe’s employment opportunities are based. In 2014, unemployment rates in cities were higher than those in towns and suburbs or rural areas in 12 of the EU Member States — including Germany and the United Kingdom (see Figure 10). There were eight EU Member States — including Spain — where the highest unemployment rates were recorded for those living in rural areas, while the highest unemployment rates in seven EU Member States — including France and Poland — were recorded among those living in towns and suburbs; in Italy, the unemployment rates for cities and rural areas were the same.

The gap in unemployment rates between those living in cities and rural areas widened to 5.1 percentage points in Greece (where the unemployment rate in cities peaked at 28.3 %), 6.1 points in Austria and 7.5 points in Belgium. On the other hand, unemployment rates in Spanish cities were 4.4 points lower than in rural areas, with this gap rising to 4.8 points in Croatia, 6.4 points in Slovakia, 7.6 points in Lithuania, and peaking at 9.3 points in Bulgaria.

Figure 10: Unemployment rates for persons aged 15–74, by degree of urbanisation, 2014
(%)
Source: Eurostat (lfst_r_urgau)


Among those living in cities, young people aged 15–24 were most likely to be unemployment

In 2014, the EU-28 unemployment rate for city-dwellers aged 15–24 was 22.9 %, which was more than twice as high as for those aged 25–39 (11.1 %). The lowest unemployment rate for people living in cities was recorded among those aged 40–64, at 8.6 %.

An analysis of unemployment rates for city-dwellers shows that the 15–24 age group consistently displayed the highest unemployment rates; this pattern was reproduced in all of the EU Member States (see Figure 11). It is important to note that a high proportion of people aged 15–24 are outside the labour market (many are studying full-time and are therefore not available for work) and as such are not included in labour force statistics; more information on the definition of unemployment and youth unemployment indicators may be found in an article on youth unemployment. That said, youth unemployment rates for Greece and Spain — two of the economies that were most affected by the global financial and economic crisis and subsequent sovereign debt crisis — rose above 50 % in Greek and Spanish cities, while unemployment rates of 40–50 % were recorded in the cities of Italy and Croatia, and 30–40 % in the cities of Portugal, Cyprus, Romania and Belgium. Germany (9.6 %) was the only EU Member State where the youth unemployment rate in cities was below 10.0 %; this was also the case in Norway (8.2 %).

In 26 of the EU Member States, the lowest unemployment rates among city-dwellers were recorded for those people within the 40–64 age group. The only exceptions to this rule were the Netherlands and Malta, where the lowest unemployment rate was recorded among city-dwellers aged 25–39.

Figure 11: Unemployment rates in cities, by age, 2014
(%)
Source: Eurostat (lfst_r_urgau)

Five metropolitan regions in southern Germany recorded some of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU …

Figure 12 presents information for the metropolitan regions in each of the EU Member States with the lowest/highest unemployment rates (for those aged 15–74). In 2014, the unemployment rate was less than 3.0 % in eight metropolitan regions of the EU-28. Five of these were located in Germany, including the Bavarian region of Regensburg, which had the lowest unemployment rate (2.3 %) in the EU among metropolitan regions. The other four German regions with very low unemployment rates were München, Offenburg, Ulm and Würzburg; all of these are located in the south of Germany. The remaining metropolitan regions which reported unemployment rates of less than 3.0 % were Cambridge (the United Kingdom), Timişoara (Romania; 2011 data) and Innsbruck (Austria; 2012 data).

It was relatively common for the capital city region to record the lowest unemployment rate; this was particularly true for several of the eastern EU Member States — Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic — but was also the case in Greece, Ireland, Lithuania and Finland. By contrast, in Denmark and Austria, the metropolitan regions for the capital cities of København and Wien recorded the highest unemployment rates. The unemployment rate in Wien was much higher than in the other metropolitan regions of Austria, with the latest rate some 3.4 times as high as that recorded for Innsbruck.

… while the highest unemployment rates in metropolitan regions were recorded in Spain and Italy

Among the 23 Member States for which data are available for more than one metropolitan region, there was a gap of at least 10.0 percentage points between the highest and lowest unemployment rates in Spain, Italy, Belgium, Romania, Croatia, Germany and the United Kingdom. The biggest difference was recorded in Spain, as the unemployment rate peaked at 42.3 % in the southern region of Cádiz - Algeciras but fell to a low of 14.3 % in the northern region of Donostia-San Sebastián. The next largest gap was recorded in Italy, where a similar pattern was observed, as a high of 24.6 % was recorded in the southern metropolitan region of Napoli, while the lowest unemployment rate was recorded in the northern region of Verona (4.9 %).

Figure 12: Unemployment rates for persons aged 15–74 in selected metropolitan regions, 2014 (1)
(%)
Source: Eurostat (met_lfu3rt)

Having identified that the widest range in unemployment rates between metropolitan regions in 2014 was in Spain and Italy, Figure 13 provides an analysis of their unemployment rates broken down by age. Youth unemployment rates (among those aged 15–24) in Spain ranged from 31.9 % in Donostia-San Sebastián to 65.1 % in Cádiz - Algeciras, while the same two regions appeared at either end of the range for unemployment rates among those aged 25–74, with a low of 13.2 % in Donostia-San Sebastián and a high of 40.2 % in Cádiz - Algeciras. In Spain, the largest gaps between youth unemployment rates and unemployment rates for those aged 25–74 were recorded in Zaragoza (44.1 percentage points difference), Madrid (38.3 points) and Pamplona/Iruña (37.1 points); in all three cases the unemployment rate for those aged 25–74 was lower than the Spanish national average.

In Italy, youth unemployment rates ranged from 20.4 % in Verona to 60.5 % in Bari. Verona also recorded the lowest unemployment rate among Italian metropolitan regions for those aged 25–74 (4.0 %), while the highest rate was recorded in Napoli (21.4 %). There was a clear north–south divide insofar as each of the northern metropolitan regions in Italy recorded an unemployment rate among those aged 25–74 that was less than or equal to the national average of 10.6 %, while unemployment rates in the southern metropolitan regions were consistently higher than the national average. The metropolitan region of Prato (2012 data) in Tuscany, as well as the regions of Genova, Roma and Torino all recorded youth unemployment rates that were higher than the Italian national average of 42.7 %; this pattern was repeated in each of the southern Italian metropolitan regions.

Figure 13: Unemployment rates by age, metropolitan regions of Spain and Italy, 2014
Source: Eurostat (met_lfu3rt)

Self-perceived poverty and social exclusion

This final section is based on a perception survey on the quality of life in 79 European cities in 2015; note that the statistics presented for Athina (Greece), Paris (France), Lisboa (Portugal), London, Manchester and the Tyneside conurbation (all in the United Kingdom) relate to the concept of the greater city.

A high share of the population living in Italian cities declared themselves unsatisfied with the state of the streets and buildings in their neighbourhood

Map 1 provides information on the proportion of respondents who were satisfied with the state of the streets and buildings in their neighbourhood. In 2015, the highest share of respondents in agreement with this premise was recorded in the Swedish capital of Stockholm (90 %), closely followed by two other capital cities, namely, Luxembourg (89 %) and Wien (88 %); an even higher share of respondents was satisfied with the state of the streets and buildings in their neighbourhood in the Swiss city of Zürich (93 %).

There were 13 cities in the EU (among those surveyed) where less than half of the respondents were satisfied with the state of the streets and buildings in their neighbourhood; this was also the case in the Turkish city of Istanbul. The lowest level of satisfaction was recorded in the Italian capital of Roma (20 %), while two other Italian cities, Napoli and Palermo (both 22 %) and the Bulgarian capital of Sofia (28 %) were the only other cities where less than one third of respondents were satisfied. Those cities with low levels of satisfaction regarding the state of streets and buildings were primarily in the southern and eastern EU Member States, although there were two German cities where less than half of all respondents were satisfied, both of these were in the region of Nordrhein-Westfalen, namely, Dortmund (42 %) and Essen (41 %).

Map 1: Proportion of people who are satisfied with the state of the streets and buildings in their neighbourhood, 2015 (¹)
(%)
Source: Eurostat (urb_percep) and (urb_cpop1)

People living in the Greek cities of Irakleio and Athina faced the greatest difficulties in paying their bills

Map 2 shows the proportion of people who agreed that, during the previous 12 months, they had difficulties to pay their bills at the end of most months. The highest share among the 79 cities surveyed in 2015 was recorded in the Greek city of Irakleio (the capital of Crete), where 36 % of respondents indicated they had faced difficulties in paying their bills; these figures are clearly influenced by the sovereign debt crisis. The next highest share was also recorded in a Greek city, namely the capital of Greater Athina (31 %), while there were two Turkish cities where just less than one third of all respondents faced difficulties paying their bills — Ankara and Diyarbakir (both 32 %).

The share of people facing difficulties in paying their bills at the end of most months was generally below 10.0 % in the majority of cities that were surveyed in 2015. Indeed, the proportion facing difficulties fell to 3.0 % or less in 12 EU cities — two each from Denmark, Germany, Finland and Sweden, and one from each of Luxembourg, Austria, Poland and Slovakia — including five capital cities: København, Luxembourg, Bratislava, Helsinki and Stockholm. In addition, there were also two cities from outside of the EU where only 3 % of respondents reported that they faced difficulties paying their bills at the end of most months: the Norwegian capital of Oslo and the Swiss city of Zürich.

Map 2: Proportion of people who had difficulties paying their bills at the end of the month, 2015 (¹)
(%)
Source: Eurostat (urb_percep) and (urb_cpop1)
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