External Publication

Why is it so hard to reach the EU’s poverty target?

Why is it so hard to reach the Europe 2020 ‘poverty’ target? What does the poverty indicator actually measure? Why was the Lisbon strategy goal of tackling poverty a failure? Zsolt Darvas analyse the data to show how the Europe 2020 strategy’s poverty indicator essentially measures income inequality, not poverty.

By: Date: March 12, 2018 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

Research article in Social Indicators Research

 

The European Union’s Lisbon strategy goal of tackling poverty was a notable failure, while the Europe 2020 strategy’s poverty target is out of reach. Both strategies were based on variants of the ‘at risk of poverty’ indicator, which has an inappropriate and misleading name. We demonstrate theoretically and empirically by cross-section, time series and panel cointegration evidence that the ‘at risk of poverty’ indicator essentially measures income inequality, not poverty.

Our calculations show that even after taking into account the positive impact that expected economic growth should have on material deprivation and low work intensity, the Gini coefficient of income inequality would have to fall by 3.5 points in each EU country if the Europe 2020 poverty target is to be reached, which is implausible.

The ‘at risk of poverty’ indicator does not satisfy standard axioms set in the literature, while the huge differences between national poverty thresholds make the EU-wide poverty aggregate pointless.

The political agreement between EU member states expressed the goal of reducing poverty, not inequality. There are good reasons to aim for lower income inequality, but a political agreement would be needed to set an inequality goal and corresponding policies.

View comments
Read about event More on this topic

Upcoming Event

Dec
4
17:00

Civil society for the digital age

What is the place of civil society in the digital age as well as the role of technology in society?

Speakers: Eline Chivot, Orla Lynskey, Bertin Martens, Georgios Petropoulos, Thiébaut Weber and Glen Weyl Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author

External Publication

Examining interrelation between global and national income inequalities

The author contributed to the new issue of 'The Russian Journal of Economics' with a paper on the global dimension of the inequality trends

By: Marek Dabrowski Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: November 15, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Blueprint

Distributional effects of climate policies

The distributional consequences are likely to be a major driver of future climate policies. Policymakers will not accept forceful decarbonisation policies if they lead to visibly increasing inequality within their societies. The distributive effects of climate policies need to be addressed. This report provides a selective review of recent academic literature and experience on the distributional effects of climate policies.

By: Grégory Claeys, Gustav Fredriksson and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Date: November 14, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Inequality in China

After amply discussing income inequality in Europe and the US, economists are now looking at the magnitude, implications and possible remedies for this phenomenon in the context of the Chinese economy.

By: Silvia Merler Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: September 24, 2018
Read about event

Past Event

Past Event

Bruegel Annual Meetings 2018

The 2018 Annual Meetings will be held on 3-4 September and will feature sessions on European and global economic governance, as well as finance, energy and innovation.

Speakers: Maria Åsenius, Richard E. Baldwin, Carl Bildt, Barbara Botos, Maria Demertzis, Benjamin Denis, Lowri Evans, Mariya Gabriel, Svend E. Hougaard Jensen, Joanne Kellermann, Jörg Kukies, Emmanuel Lagarrigue, Philippe Lespinard, Rachel Lomax, Dominique Moïsi, Jean Pierre Mustier, Ana Palacio, Jean Pisani-Ferry, Lucrezia Reichlin, Norbert Röttgen, André Sapir, Johan Van Overtveldt, Martin Sandbu, Margrethe Vestager, Reinhilde Veugelers, Nicolas Véron, Thomas Wieser, Guntram B. Wolff and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance, Finance & Financial Regulation, Global Economics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Brussels Comic Strip Museum, Rue des Sables 20, 1000 Brussels Date: September 3, 2018
Read article

Parliamentary Testimony

European Parliament

The role of independent expertise in legislative process

Testimony before the European Parliament Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO).

By: Zsolt Darvas and J. Scott Marcus Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, European Parliament, Testimonies Date: July 18, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

EU income inequality decline: Views from an income shares perspective

Over the past decade, the income share of low earners has increased in the EU while that of top earners has slightly declined. Although the upward convergence of the impoverished central European population is impressive, the southern European poor have faced a major setback while the southern European rich have hardly suffered.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 5, 2018
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

Understanding (the lack of) German public investment

An array of data suggests that there is a general lack of investment by all branches of the German government, despite running budget surpluses for several years. This blog post plots the progression of the public investment problem, and explores which regions, which sectors, and which levels of government have been most affected.

By: Alexander Roth and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 19, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

European income inequality begins to fall once again

Following almost a decade of relative stability, income inequality within the EU recorded a sizeable decline in 2016, reaching its lowest value since 1989. The fall of both within- and between-country inequality contributed to the 2016 reduction in overall EU inequality.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: April 30, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Global income inequality is declining – largely thanks to China and India

Income inequality among citizens of 146 continues to fall, though at a somewhat reduced pace, according to the updated Bruegel dataset. Income convergence of China and India accounts for the bulk of the decline in global income inequality from 1988-2015.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: April 19, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

Climate policies risk increasing social inequality

The aggressive political interventions needed to effectively counteract climate change will make the rich richer and the poor poorer, if social concerns are not given greater prominence in policy debates.

By: Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Date: February 8, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

A few good (wo)men – on the representation of women in economics

Last week, the American Economics Association Annual Meetings held a session on Gender Issues in Economics and later announced that a new code of professional conduct is in the pipeline. In this blogs review we revise the recent contributions on female representation and perception in economics.

By: Inês Goncalves Raposo Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: January 15, 2018
Load more posts