European Observatory on the Social Situation

Researchers: András Gábos, Márton Medgyesi, István György Tóth, Péter Szivós, Anikó Bernát, Tamás Keller
European Observatory on the Social Situation - Network on Social Inclusion and Income Distribution (EC, DG EMPL, VC/2004/0462, 19 May 2005, and VC/2005/0780, 31/10/2006-31/10/2008)
TÁRKI is a member of a consortium that monitors and reports on trends in income distribution and social inclusion - i.e. on the overall inclusiveness of European society. It monitors the situation regarding income and wealth, the impact of the tax-benefit system, access to services, questions related to poverty, and population groups particularly at risk of exclusion. This involves examining the relationship between income and living standards and the extent to which the former, as usually defined and measured, determines the latter, and, accordingly, how far households and the people living in them are able to participate fully in society and avoid deprivation and exclusion. It also involves consideration of other factors that influence living standards and involvement in society, particularly the tax and benefit system in place in different countries, and other measures implemented by governments to provide social support, as well as access to employment, decent housing and so on. The report was produced for the EC Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunity in 2005-6. The work was co-ordinated by Applica (Belgium).
The key findings on Hungary were: 'Moreover, while, according to the [European Community Household Panel], there was a modest decline in the proportion of children with income below the poverty line in the EU15 as a whole between 1995 and 2001, the proportion appears to have increased in the few new Member States for which data are available (Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic). In the EU15 generally, the increased age at which people tend to have children and, therefore, their higher level of income, seems to have moderated the risk of child poverty as well as a generally declining rates of unemployment, though in the UK, increased social transfers to families have been important.
"The number of older people of 65 and over with income below the poverty line varies across the EU by more still, from 4% in the Czech Republic and under 10% in France, Hungary and Poland to 30% in Spain, over 40% in Ireland and over 50% in Cyprus. The risk of poverty in old-age seems, in general, to be less in the new Member States than in the EU15, reflecting perhaps more of those in retirement living in households with people in work as well as relative pension levels. Experience varied over the second half of the 1990s, the poverty rate among the elderly rising in Ireland and Finland and declining in Germany and the UK" (cited from the Executive Summaryexternal linkpdf file