From: 17 % of EU citizens were at-risk-of-poverty in 2008
In 2008 as in 2007, 17% of the population was assessed to be at-risk-of-poverty following the concept of relative poverty adopted in the European Union. Despite this overall stability the risk of poverty rose by 5 percentage points in Latvia, and decreased significantly only in Ireland and Romania (both -2 percentage points). 20% of children were at-risk-of poverty in the EU in 2008 with the highest figures in Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, and Latvia. The at-risk-of-poverty rate exceeded 30% for the elderly population (aged 65 and more) in Latvia, Cyprus, Estonia and Bulgaria. On average, social protection reduced poverty by 32% in the EU with large discrepancies between countries. Holding a job is not always sufficient to escape from poverty and 8% of the EU population were at-risk-of-poverty in 2008 despite having a job. Material deprivation affected 17% of the EU population in 2008 and some of the new Member States (Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Latvia and Poland) recorded the highest values.
Chart 3 below ranks countries following the impact of social transfers on the at-risk-of-poverty rate before social transfers, in percentage of the latter.
In the absence of social transfers other than pensions, the poverty risk for the EU population as a whole would be considerably higher than it is in reality (25% instead of 17%): on average, social transfers reduce the risk of poverty by 32%.
Social transfers are most effective in Hungary, the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland), the Czech Republic, Ireland and Austria where they reduce poverty by 50% or more. Conversely, in Greece, Latvia, Spain and Italy, social transfers only reduce the risk of poverty by less than 20%.