European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion


The European Union is one of the richest areas in the world, but still 17% of EU citizens have such limited resources that they cannot afford the basics.

2010 is declared the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. How come? Is there really poverty in Europe? – That actually depends on how one defines poverty. Generally one distinguishes between absolute and relative poverty. Absolute poverty is widely common in many third-world countries while relative poverty is existent in every country. The latter term is often used for people whose income is less than 60% of the the median equivalised income. One gets the median by sorting all incomes of the sample population from lowest to highest and pick the middle value (or the mean of the two middle values in case of an even number of samples).

Time to look at the data and see what the situation looks like. I will use this occasion to present various maps linked with this topic throughout the year.

The map below investigates the share of the population that is at risk of poverty. Additonally the absolute threshold in Euro is displayed for each contry with proportional symbols that are coloured according to the Gini index which expresses the income inequality in a country. A value of zero would represent complete equality while a value of 100 would mean all the existent income is in the hand of 1 person while the others have nothing.

An interesting publication from the European Commission covering the whole subject can be found here.

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