In Slovenia one in eight and in the EU one in six people is below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold. One in six people in Slovenia and one in four people in the EU is at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion.
17 October is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1992 with the aim to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty in the world and to encourage activities to fight it. This year the world is also celebrating 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. People living in poverty experience many violations of human rights, so respect of human rights is the main topic of this year’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
Relative poverty in the EU
Statistical offices of European countries measure relative poverty, i.e. how many people are poor compared to others. We suppose that due to their low income poor people cannot afford to have a life that is deemed normal for the society in which they live. It is not always the lack of basic goods such as food, clothing, footwear, drinking water, housing, basic health care, basic education, but also access to some goods, services and activities that are common to the society in which they live, for example to information-communication technology, studies, travel, social events, socialising with peers, etc., and this leads to social exclusion in the long term.
Relative poverty is expressed with the at-risk-of-poverty rate, which indicates the share of people living in households in which net disposable income is below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold. According to Eurostat data for 2016, 17.3% of the population in EU Member States (about 87 million) were living below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold. Six Member States had lower at-risk-of-poverty rates than Slovenia (13.9%). According to the latest data, in 2017 268,000 people (13.3% of the population) in Slovenia were living below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold. Their monthly net disposable income was lower than EUR 636 per adult household member. Fifteen EU Member States had higher at-risk-of-poverty thresholds than Slovenia.
Poverty or social exclusion
In the Europe 2020 Strategy, which should deliver in the EU high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion, EU Member States set a goal to reduce the number of people living in poverty or social exclusion by at least 20 million by 2020; the goal for Slovenia is 40,000.
In 2017, one in six people in Slovenia and one in four people in the EU were at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion. The decline in poverty or social exclusion is an important objective of the European strategy, since development is seen as economic growth together with well-being of as many people as possible. Social exclusion is a wider notion than the at-risk-of-poverty rate, since it also comprises people who are severely materially deprived or who live in households with very low work intensity.
In Slovenia the share of people who are socially excluded because they suffer from one of the three conditions is relatively low. In 2017 it was 17.1%, a year before 18.4%. The share of people at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion was lower in only eight EU Member States. In 2016, the EU average was 23.5%. Poverty or social exclusion were the most widespread in Bulgaria (40.4%), followed by Romania (38.8%) and Greece (35.6%), and the least widespread in the Czech Republic (13.3%), followed by Finland (16.6%), the Netherlands (16.7%) and Denmark (16.8%).
In 2016, 118 million people in the EU-28 were living in poverty or social exclusion. In the EU-27 116.9 million people were living in poverty or social exclusion, 800,000 more than in the base year 2008 (116.1 million). In Slovenia the number of people living in poverty or social exclusion decreased from 361,000 in the base year 2008 to 345,000 in 2017. The data for the EU show that in recent years it has been moving away from the Europe 2020 objective rather than towards it, while after eight years Slovenia drew slightly closer to the objective in 2017.
Particularly problematic is long-term poverty, which leads people into social exclusion, since it prevents them from accessing some of the goods, services and activities that are normal for the society in which they live. Long-term poverty is measured by the persistent at-risk-of-poverty rate, which shows the share of people who were below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold in the current year and at least two out of the preceding three years.
In 2017, 8.2% or 148,000 people in Slovenia were living below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold for a longer time (one in twelve); a year before the share was 8.5% (in the EU 11% or one in nine). In 2016, lower persistent at-risk-of-poverty rates than in Slovenia were recorded in ten EU Member States; it was the lowest in the Czech Republic (4.3%) and Scandinavian countries and the highest in Romania (20.2%).