EU Science Hub

In-work poverty in Europe: is the EU indicator still fit for purpose?

Nov 23 2021

The Fairness Community of Practice at the European Commission Joint Research Centre, Monitoring, Indicators and Impact Evaluation Unit

invites you to an online event on:

In-work poverty in Europe: is the EU indicator still fit for purpose?

23 November 2021, 10.00-11.30 CET

The event is part of a webinar series on fairness and related issues
organised by the Fairness Community of Practice.
For details on the upcoming events please see the Fairness CoP page.

Background and programme

Employment remains the best route out of poverty but the phenomenon of in-work poverty has become all too real in the recent decades. Since the European Union added a new indicator of “in-work poverty risk” to the European list of social indicators in 2003, the share of employed persons aged over 18 at risk of poverty increased from 8.2% in 2005 to 9% just before the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019 after reaching a peak of 9.8% in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis.

While the idea behind it is rather intuitive, measuring in-work poverty is far from straightforward. In particular, the EU definition of in-work poverty is a hybrid concept, mixing the individual’s employment condition (based on relatively strict criteria) and the household’s (equivalised) income, which identifies the poverty status of the worker. Moreover, as any relative measure, in-work poverty defined in relative terms may vary over time simply because of a variation in the median and not because of an improvement in the standards of living. These (apparently) technical issues can have major implications for policy, in particular as the indicator ends up excluding the most vulnerable workers and it assumes full pooling of resources within the household.

At the next JRC Community of Practice on Fairness event on November 23rd at 10am, Estefania Alaminos Aguilera (Eurostat), Sophie Ponthieux (INSEE), Michele Raitano (Università della Sapienza) and Klaus Mueller (European Parliamentary Research Service) discussed  the strengths and weaknesses of the existing indicator and reflected on the possible ways forward. Andrea Garnero (JRC) introduced and moderated the event while Olivier Bontout (DG EMPL) concluded.


Watch the recording of this webinar

/jrc/en/file/189226JRC CoP on Fairness In-work poverty in Europe



PDF icon IWP A brief review of (old) issues
Sophie Ponthieux (INSEE)


PDF icon CoP - In-work poverty in Europe
Klaus Mueller (European Parliamentary Research Service)


PDF icon How to better monitor in work poverty
Michele Raitano (Università della Sapienza),


/jrc/en/file/document/189230Introduction to EU-SILC

Estefania Alaminos Aguilera (Eurostat)