Czechs unlikely to face social exclusion — Eurostat

Czech residents are among the least likely in Europe to fall into poverty, says the EU’s statistical arm

Across the EU-27, some 81 million people, or 17 percent of the population, were at risk of falling into poverty last year, but in the Czech Republic the percentage stood at only 9 percent — the lowest in Europe — according to a new report on income and living conditions released by Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency. 

Neighboring Slovakia tied with the Netherlands for second place at 11 percent. The countries with people most at risk for falling into poverty were Latvia, Romania and Bulgaria, the report said, while laying out the EU’s long-term goal of reducing poverty.

“One of the headline targets in the Europe 2020 Strategy for Jobs and Growth is promoting social inclusion, in particular through the reduction of poverty, by aiming to reduce the number of people at risk of poverty and excluded from full participation in work and society,” European Commission president José Manuel Barroso said in the report.

The Europe strategy aims to prevent by 2020 at least 20 million people in the EU-27 from succumbing to the risk of poverty or social exclusion.

Triple threat

The EU sets out three criteria leading to “social exclusion.” Aside from the risk of poverty, the number of people in a country who are “severely materially deprived” and who live in a household with “low work intensity” are calculated.

Severe material deprivation is defined as having living conditions constrained by a lack of resources such as not being able to afford to pay bills, keep a home adequately warm, or own essential items such as a car or a telephone. Low work intensity counts households where the adults worked less than 20 percent of their total work potential during the past year.

Risk of social exclusion (by percent of population)

Across the EU-27, some 42 million people were severely materially deprived and 24 million lived in households with low work intensity. About 116 million people, or almost one quarter of the EU population, fell into one of these categories, and some 7 million people fell into all three.

The Czech Republic tied with Sweden and the Netherlands for having the lowest percentage of people (15 percent) falling into any one of the three categories. Bulgaria, on the other hand, had some 45 percent of its population in one of the categories. Romania, Latvia, and Poland also had high percentages.