Fewer at risk in poverty in Europe - 36 percent in South Aegean

2020-05-20 Notio Aigaio Risk of poverty

The proportion of people living at risk of poverty has dropped across almost all European countries over the last five years, according to new figures from Eurostat.

This report is primarily intended to be used by journalists as a starting point for further investigation into poverty risks in Europe. You are free to use it under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license, including publishing of texts and charts.

36 percent of people in South Aegean are living at risk of poverty, according to the figures from 2018. This is significantly higher than the EU average.

Compared to the rest of Greece, South Aegean has a comparatively high risk of poverty. Dytiki Ellada is the region with the highest share of people living at risk of poverty in Greece, while Ionia Nisia is the region with the lowest share.

People are at risk of poverty when their income is significantly lower than that of the population as a whole. The European Union considers a person at risk of poverty if their disposable income is under 60% of the country’s median income.

In Greece this was roughly €7,875 in 2018, which means people earning less than €4,725 fall into this category.

Regional patterns

There are clear regional patterns to the risk of poverty in Europe. Most people are at risk in southern and eastern Europe, with the southern parts of Italy worst hit.

Three of the regions with the highest risk of poverty in Europe are found in Italy. In Campagna and Sicily, more than half of the population is living at the risk of poverty, earning roughly €10,000 or less.

At the other end of the scale, five of the regions with lowest risk of poverty are in Czechia, with fewer than one in 10 living at risk of poverty in Prague.

It’s important to note that this is a relative measure of poverty, where the threshold will vary from country to country. This shows how incomes compare to the rest of the country. It doesn’t tell us about absolute poverty, lacking the income to meet basic needs.

Decreasing risk of poverty in most countries

Looking over time, the trend is clear: the proportion of people living at risk of poverty has decreased in almost all European countries over the last five years.

There are only six countries bucking the trend, and these are mostly wealthy countries in Northern and Western Europe, where the risk of poverty is relatively low but has increased somewhat.

Luxembourg has had the greatest increase in people living at risk of poverty since 2013.

Although Eastern and Southern Europe both have some of the continent’s highest risks of poverty today, the two regions are heading in quite different directions.

In Eastern Europe the risk of poverty has dropped significantly in recent years, especially in Hungary, Bulgaria and Poland.

In many parts of Spain and Italy, it has increased.

There is no historical data available for South Aegean, so it is not possible to say anything about how poverty rates have changed over time.

Mind the gap

The gap between rich and poor regions is considerable in many countries.

The difference between rich and poor, an indication of regional inequality, is biggest in Italy and Spain. Both countries have a significant north-south divide, and in Italy, over four times as many people are living at risk of poverty in southern Sicily and Campagna than in northern province South Tyrol.

The chart above shows the gap between different regions of the same country. It only includes countries with regional data available for five or more NUTS 2 regions.

In Greece, Dytiki Ellada (which has the highest poverty rate) has a risk of poverty two times higher than in the wealthier Ionia Nisia.

Who is at risk?

Different groups in society are more exposed to risk of poverty.

For instance, almost half (48%) of unemployed people across EU member states fall into risk of poverty, according to figures from Eurostat.

Single parents are also especially at risk: almost half (46%) of people in single person households with dependent children were classified as at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU in 2018.

Text, research and charts:: Clara Guibourg, clara@newsworthy.se


  • This data comes from Eurostat, with data up to 2018.
  • Eurostat defines risk of poverty as earning under 60% of the country's median income. This makes it a relative measure of poverty.
  • Not all countries have regional data on risk of poverty, those that do not have been excluded from the report.
  • Note that only regions with data from 2018 are included in this report. For example Germany and Austria only have data until 2017.


Risk of poverty in Greece in 2018
RegionPercent of population at risk of poverty
Dytiki Ellada45
West Macedonia37
Notio Aigaio36
Ionia Nisia28

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