Bulgaria had the highest rate of severe material deprivation in the European Union in 2018, but also had the largest decrease compared with 2017, according to figures released by EU statistics agency Eurostat.
Eurostat said that “severe material deprivation” means being unable to afford at least four of the following items, which are considered by most people to be desirable or necessary to lead an adequate life: pay their bills on time; keep their home adequately warm; face unexpected expenses; eat meat (or fish or the vegetarian equivalent) regularly; take a one week holiday away from home; a TV; a washing machine; a car; a telephone.
In 2018, across EU member states, Bulgaria (20.9 per cent), Romania (16.8 per cent) and Greece (16.7 per cent) registered the highest shares of severe material deprivation.
In contrast, the severe material deprivation rates were below 2.5 per cent in Sweden (1.1 per cent in 2017), Luxembourg (1.2 per cent in 2017) and the Netherlands (2.4 per cent).
The largest decreases were registered in Bulgaria (from 30 per cent in 2017 to 20.9 per cent in 2018, or -9.1 pp), followed by Greece (from 21.1 per cent to 16.7 per cent, or -4.4 pp) and Hungary (from 14.5 per cent to 10.1 per cent, or -4.4 pp).
On average the severe material deprivation rate in the EU decreased by 0.4 percentage points (pp) in 2018, from 6.6 per cent in 2017.
Similarly, in most of the countries for which 2018 data are available, the severe material deprivation rate decreased compared with 2017.
The exceptions are Finland, where it increased by 0.7 pp, from 2.1 per cent in 2017 to 2.8 per cent in 2018; France, where it increased by 0.6 pp, from 4.1 per cent in 2017 to 4.7 per cent in 2018; the United Kingdom, where it increased by 0.5 pp, from 4.1 per cent in 2017 to 4.6 per cent in 2018; and Denmark, where it increased by 0.3 pp, from 3.1 per cent in 2017 to 3.4 per cent in 2018.
In 2018, 6.2 per cent of the population or around 31 million people in the European Union (EU) were severely materially deprived. The 2018 data reflect the continued downward trend in the proportion of people severely materially deprived in the EU since the peak of 9.9 per cent in 2012, Eurostat said.