Working Paper, The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), Dublin 169
Income poverty in the EU is normally measured by reference to income thresholds defined at the level of each member state, independently of any consideration of inequalities in income between member states. This approach has come under strain as a consequence of the recent enlargement of the EU: income differences between member states are now so wide that what is defined as the poverty threshold in the richer member states would count as an above-average income in the poorer member states. This paper proposes that, in order to cope with this new situation, measures of poverty based on EU-wide thresholds need to be utilised alongside existing measures. Quality of life indicators from the European Quality of Life Survey 2003 are used to show that the very high poverty rates in poorer member states that an EU-wide poverty measure would produce are a realistic reflection of the low living standards, strong sense of deprivation and impaired quality of life experienced by the majority of the population in those states. The policy implication drawn is that anti-poverty policy in the EU should be set as much in the context of the EU's convergence project as of social policy in the usual sense.
poverty European Union quality of life EU convergence policy social policy