In a recent study by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, Romania ranks highest among member states for population at risk of poverty or social exclusion, with 40.2 percent in 2014, while the average in the European Union is at 24.4.
Other countries scoring above the EU average are Bulgaria (40.1 percent), Greece (36 percent), Latvia (32.7 percent) and Hungary (31.1 percent). At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest shares of persons being at risk of poverty or social exclusion were recorded in the Czech Republic (14.8 percent), Sweden (16.9 percent), the Netherlands (17.1 percent), Finland (17.3 percent) and Denmark (17.8 percent).
The share of population at risk is higher in rural areas than in cities, with the European average at 20.3 percent for rural and 16.4 percent. Romania ranks second after Malta (44.3 percent), with 42.2 percent for rural areas, while in cities it stands below the EU average with 9.2 percent.
In terms of number of persons who could not afford a personal car in 2014, Romania once again took the lead with a 37.1 percent share of the population, followed by Hungary with 24.3 percent and Estonia with 14 percent. While the European average stood at 8.4 percent, the lowest numbers were recorded in Cyprus (1.7 percent), Sweden (2.6 percent) and France (3 percent).
One more chapter where Romania ranks highest is the inability to afford paying for one week annual holiday away from home, having a share of 69.2 percent of population who enter this category. Next in line come Cyprus (58.9 percent), Portugal (55.6 percent) and Poland (52.6 percent), while the European average is at 36.5 percent. At the other end of the scale, Sweden (7.6 percent), Finland (13.6 percent) and Denmark (16.6 percent) had the lowest share of population who could not afford to go on vacation abroad.
Looking at each of the three elements contributing to being at risk of poverty or social exclusion, 17.2 percent of the EU population in 2014 were at risk of poverty after social transfers, meaning that their disposable income was below their national at-risk-of-poverty threshold. More than 1 in 5 persons was at risk of income poverty in Romania (25.4 percent), Spain (22.2 percent), Greece (22.1 percent), Bulgaria (21.8 percent) and Latvia (21.2 percent). The lowest rates were observed in the Czech Republic (9.7 percent), the Netherlands (11.6 percent) and Denmark (11.9 percent).
Over 20 percent of the population in Romania was severely materially deprived in 2014, with Romania (26.3 percent) coming in second after Bulgaria (33.1 percent), but scoring above Hungary (23.9 percent) and Greece (21.5 percent). The lowest shares were recorded in Sweden (0.7 percent), Finland (2.8 percent), Denmark and the Netherlands (both 3.2 percent), Austria (4.0 percent), France (4.8 percent) and Germany (5 percent). The EU average stood at 8.9 percent.
Among Member States for which data are available, the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate has grown from 2008 to 2014 in fourteen Member States, with the highest increases being recorded in Greece (from 28.1 percent in 2008 to 36.0 percent in 2014, or +7.9 percentage points), Spain (+4.7 percentage points), Cyprus (+4.1 percentage points), Malta (+3.7 percentage points), Hungary (+2.9 percentage points) and Italy (+2.8 percentage points). In contrast, the largest decreases among Member States without break in time series were observed in Poland (from 30.5 percent to 24.7 percent, or -5.8 percentage points), Romania (-4.0 percentage points) and Slovakia (-2.2 percentage points). At EU level, the percentage of total population being at risk of poverty or social exclusion has risen from 23.8 percent in 2008 to 24.4 percent in 2014.