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Poverty of elderly people in EU25

The European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, Vienna has recently initiated a publication series of Policy Briefs, which provides a synthesis of research and policy advice on which the European Centre researchers have been working.

The first Policy Brief “Poverty of elderly People in EU25", by Asghar Zaidi, arises out of our work for the European Commission under the Community Action Programme to combat Social Exclusion. This Policy Brief analyses poverty risks faced by the current populations of elderly people in the latest year (ie. around 2003).

Our findings are that, in the early years of the 21st century, about 13 million elderly people are at risk of poverty in 25 EU member States, amounting to as many as one-in-six of all 74 million elderly people living in EU. Cyprus, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Greece and the United Kingdom are identified as the countries with the highest poverty risk for the elderly population. The new member States are largely countries with the lowest risk of elderly poverty. In 14 out of all 25 member countries the elderly populations are more often at risk of being poor in comparison to working-age populations. The relative risk of elderly poverty is particularly high in Cyprus, Ireland and Slovenia. Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are at the other end of the spectrum, where the elderly are better protected against the risk of poverty than the working-age individuals.

In the majority of countries, the poverty risk is clearly higher for female elderly - more so in EU15 than in the new member countries. In general, it can be seen that females aged 75 and over show the highest at-risk-of-poverty rates.

Note here that these and all the other results reported in this brief are based on country-specific relative poverty thresholds based on income alone.

Annette Hexelschneider | alfa
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