Austerity measures lead to rise in poverty across European Union

The 2011 Assessment of Social Inclusion Policy Developments in the EU concludes that during 2011 the financial and economic crisis, together with associated austerity measures, led to an increase in poverty and social exclusion in more than half the member states. The report is the summary of the findings of national reports written by members of the European Union Network of Independent Experts on Social Inclusion assessing the policy developments in their countries during 2011. In the countries where the situation has worsened over the past year, the most frequently cited factors for the worsening situation is a fall in employment rates and a rise in unemployment, or the persistence of an already high level of unemployment. Many experts particularly highlight the poor situation of the young unemployed and the growing proportion of long-term unemployed.

The experts also note that the burden of the reduction in national household income has fallen on those living on a low income. Several groups were seen to be most at risk. These include children, immigrants and people from a migrant background, ethnic minorities (especially Roma), and people with disabilities. In some countries, experts also cite older people and the homeless, and several highlight a higher risk for women.

Several experts suggest that the current crisis has been reinforcing long-term trends to growing inequality in society. Thus, where there has been some economic recovery the benefits are often not evenly shared.

The full report, 2011 Assessment of Social Inclusion Policy Developments in the EU: Main Findings and Suggestions on the Way Forward, by Hugh Frazer and Eric Marlier, is available from the EU Network of Independent Experts on Social Inclusion (European Commission).