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Facts About Poverty in Europe
Although the European Union (EU) largely consists of many advanced nations, it is important to remember that these nations are still affected by poverty. Many countries were affected by the euro crisis that began in 2008 and are still suffering its consequences.

12 Facts About Poverty in Europe

  1. One in four Europeans experiences at least one form of poverty. Forms of poverty include income poverty, severe material deprivation, very low work intensity and social exclusion. Income poverty is the most common form of poverty in Europe, affecting 17.3 percent of people. One hundred eighteen million people (23.5 percent) of the EU-28 population were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, with 43 million of those not able to afford a quality meal every second day. This is known as severe material deprivation.
  2. Social exclusion is the lack of social resources and rights available to most people as a result of poverty or being part of a minority group. In 2015, more than a third of the population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion in three EU countries: 41.3 percent in Bulgaria, 37 percent in Romania and 35.7 percent in Greece. The countries with the lowest risk were the Czech Republic at 14 percent and Sweden at 16 percent.
  3. The poverty line is the minimum level of income needed to secure the necessities of life and differs greatly for each European country. An average of 9.8 percent of people in the EU live below the poverty line. The country with the lowest amount of people living below the poverty line is Austria at four percent, and the highest is Greece at 36 percent. This is one of the 12 facts about poverty in Europe that reveals the enormous gap between wealthier and poorer countries in Europe.
  4. The unemployment rate in Europe is only around seven percent. According to Eurostat, some countries rank above this average with Greece at 20.9 percent and Spain at 16.3 percent. In 2016, 48.7 percent of people who were unemployed were at risk of poverty. Unemployment also makes people more at risk of severe material deprivation.
  5. Poverty in Europe is not limited to those who are unemployed. In 2015, 7.7 percent of the EU population was at risk of poverty despite working full-time, with men more at risk than women. Romania has Europe’s highest risk of in-work poverty with a rate of 18.9 percent. Spain and Greece follow with 13.1 percent and 14.1 percent, respectively. Additionally, the in-work poverty risk has increased from 8.3 percent in 2010 to 9.6 percent in 2016.
  6. Women have a higher risk of poverty in Europe. The number of women suffering from poverty or social exclusion in the EU was 1.9 percent higher than men in 2015. Additionally, young people between the ages of 18 and 24 are more at risk of poverty or social inclusion with a risk of 30.6 percent.
  7. In 2015, almost 50 percent of all single parents in Europe were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, which is twice as much as the risk for any other household.
  8. Foreigner-born residents (39.2 percent) are at a higher risk of poverty or social exclusion than native citizens (21.6 percent). In Italy, the number of foreigners at risk is particularly high at 55 percent.
  9. Children below the age of 18 also have a high rate of poverty or social exclusion, at 47 percent, with 26 million children in the EU living at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Child poverty in the U.K. has reached its highest level since 2010, reaching 30 percent.
  10. Even with the economy improving, one in three people in Spain still lives in poverty, which is defined as living on €8,000 or less per year. Children are also at a higher risk of poverty in Spain. In Andalusia, a Spanish province, child poverty reached 44 percent.
  11. Italy has the most people at risk of poverty in Europe. This amount rose from 15 million to 18 million people since the 2008 crisis, with over 4 million people living in absolute poverty.
  12. The heads of government in the EU adopted the Europe 2020 Strategy in 2010 to address poverty. The goal of this was to lift at least 20 million people out of the risk of poverty and social exclusion by 2020.  Unfortunately, this goal has not been reached and the situation has gotten worse instead of better. There has been an increase in poverty in the EU over the past years. In 2009, there were 117 million people and 27 EU member states at risk of poverty or social inclusion in the EU Since then, there has been an increase of 1.6 million people and one country.

Although these 12 facts about poverty in Europe may introduce a growing problem, the EU along with the European governments are taking active steps to fight this problem. Several countries’ economies are now expanding and showing improvement since the crisis. This includes Spain’s economy, which now has a predicted growth of 2.5 percent in 2018. It is imperative to continue to provide foreign aid and assistance in order to ensure that U.S. allies continue to grow and move past the repercussions suffered after the crisis.

– Luz Solano-Flórez
Photo: Flickr

Germany and Its Dedication to Improving Welfare Efforts

Although Germany is experiencing record-low unemployment and the economy has been improving over the years, overall poverty in Germany is increasing. Since Germany’s reunification in 1990, the poverty rate has never been higher than its current state. Ulrich Schneider — chief executive of Germany’s Equal Welfare Organization — was quoted in an article by the “Deutsche Welle” saying “Poverty has never been as high and the regional disunity has never run as deep.”

In 2013, a survey titled “Living in Europe” released results showing that 16.2 million people in Germany were victims of poverty. That astounding number makes up 20.3% of the German population. As previously stated, poverty in Germany has been increasing over the years and the statistics only support that fact. The percentage of the impoverished German population has ranged from 19.6 to 21.9 since 2008. The poverty issue in Germany has affected men and women alike, but it has affected children more than anything.

In 2014, there were an estimated 1.9 million minors growing up in impoverished households in Germany. Surprisingly, that number shot up by 52,000 in the span of one year. This horrific statistic will haunt the lives of many for years to come. Statistics show “that 57.2 percent of children between the ages of seven and 15 had been supported by basic welfare for a period of at least three years.” Anette Stein — an expert working at the Bertelsmann Foundation — knows from work experience: “The longer that a child lives on welfare, the worse the consequences are.”

The consequences of welfare are horrible because welfare-dependent children are not just affected financially, but also physically and socially. Welfare dependent children have higher chances of struggling in social situations, struggling with health issues and struggling with education.

How Germany is Trying to Appease Poverty

Schneider is aware of Germany’s current status and has proposed to appease the situation by increasing welfare rates and creating more employment opportunities. It was decided in 2015 that in order to create thousands of new jobs for poverty-stricken German citizens, a substantial amount of money would have to be spent. Andre Nahles — a German Labor Minister — stated Germany “will use 2.7 billion euros ($3 billion) from the European Social Fund, plus 4.3 billion euros from within Germany.”

This plan will create 26 different programs within Germany and run until the year 2020. The German labor industry claims that almost 40% of the money will be invested in “the promotion of social integration and the battle against poverty.”

Although Germany is currently in a poor position, their current state does not come as much of a surprise. Statisticians have reported that the European Union as a whole is in worse shape than Germany. Twenty-four point five percent of the EU’s population is facing poverty and social exclusion. Additionally, “16.7 percent of the population was at risk of poverty, 9.6 percent significantly material-disadvantaged and 10.7 percent were living in households with very low labor market participation.”

Germany has a lot of improvements to make before it can get back on track as a country, but it is attacking its problems head-on. The Germans have not shied away from improving welfare efforts and have implemented plans for progression. With Germany’s economy on the rise and the unemployment rate on the decline, it should only be a matter of time before poverty in Germany takes a turn for the better.

Terry J. Halloran

Photo: Flickr