Across EU member states, Bulgaria (30.0%), Greece (21.1%), Romania (19.4%) and Hungary (14.5%) register the highest shares of severe material deprivation, according to the 2017 data published on April 25 by Eurostat.
According to updated data from the Bulgarian statistics office quoted by dnevnik.bg, the highest share of people in the country living at serious risk of poverty or material deprivation is found among Bulgarians aged over 65 years: about 46% of people in this age category, or 670,000 people. The second age group exposed to material deprivation is that of young Bulgarians under the age of 17, out of whom 42% or over 550,000 people qualify for severe material deprivation. Among Bulgarians aged 18-64, the risk of poverty is 37%, according to data from Bulgarian statistics.
Romania marked the steepest improvement versus 2016, visibly thanks to the fiscal stimulus and income policies carried out by the ruling coalition. The material deprivation rate decreased in Romania from 23.8% in 2016 to 19.4% in 2017, or by -4.4pp, followed by Italy (from 12.1% to 9.2%, or -2.9pp), Croatia (from 12.5% to 10.3%, or -2.2pp), Bulgaria (from 31.9% to 30.0%, or -1.9pp) and Cyprus (from 13.6% to 11.7%, or -1.9pp).
About 33mn Europeans, or 6.7% of EU citizens, were in serious material deprivation in 2017, Eurostat data showed.
In contrast, the severe material deprivation rates were below 3% in Sweden (0.8% in 2016), Luxembourg (1.6% in 2016), Finland (2.0%) and the Netherlands (2.6%). From the Central and Southeast Europe region, the lowest rates were in the Czech Republic, followed by Estonia.
According to the Eurostat definition, a person is considered to be at risk of poverty (or in severe material deprivation) when he or she can not afford at least four out of the things most people find desirable or necessary for an adequate social life: paying their bills on time; keeping their home warm; facing unexpected expenses; eating meat (or the vegetarian equivalent) regularly; being able to afford a week away from home; and making use of a TV, washing machine, car and telephone.