Living condition statistics - family situation of today's adults as children
From Statistics Explained
- Data from October 2013. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
This article presents European Union (EU) statistics on the family situation at age 14, as reported by today's adults. They are based on results from the EU statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) 2011 module on ‘Intergenerational transmission of disadvantages’ in which each current household member aged 25 to 59 was asked personal questions about their family situation when they were aged 14. Information on parental socio-economic status and educational background was also collected.
Main statistical findings
Presence of parents in the household
In 2011, 85.9 % of the EU-28 population reported that they lived with both parents (or with persons considered as parents) when they were around the age of 14 (Table 1). This rate ranged from 75.8 % in Estonia and Latvia to 93.1 % in Greece and 93.0 % in Malta.
On the other hand, at EU level, 11.6 % of the population reported living in a single-parent household at the age of 14. Almost one tenth of the respondents (9.8 %) lived with their mother only, while 1.8 % lived with their father. Across countries, the share living with their mother only was highest in Estonia and Latvia (20.6 % and 20.5 % respectively). At the other extreme, just 3.9 % of the population lived in a household with only their mother in Greece and Malta. Conversely, the rates for persons that lived only with their father did not exceed 3.0 % in any country, with the exception of Hungary (4.1 %) and Sweden (3.5 %).
The picture for those who as young teenagers lived in households without either parent is similar across the EU Member States. On average, less than 1.4 % of the EU-28 population reported living in a household without either parent when 14, with the highest shares being recorded in Spain and Portugal (3.0 % and 3.4 % respectively).
Finally, in all but six countries (Bulgaria, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland and the United Kingdom) the lowest percentages were reported for persons that lived in collective households or institutions at the age of 14.
Parents’ country of birth
Figures 1 and 2 present the distribution of the EU-28 population by the father’s (or mother’s) country of birth. The country of birth of the father (or mother) is defined as the country of residence of the father's (or mother’s) mother at the time of their birth.
Overall, the percentage of the population living in an EU Member State while their father was born in the same country as their present country of residence (i.e. the country of the survey) was 86.5 %. With the exception of Luxembourg (39.1 %) the rates ranged from 70.6 % in Estonia and Latvia to 99.7 % in Romania and 99.2 % in Bulgaria. The rates exceeded 80.0 % in nineteen Member States while high rates were also reported by Iceland (91.8 %) and Norway (89.0 %).
On the other hand, just 5.1 % of the EU population had a father who was born in a different EU Member State. It should be noted that the reply “Born in another EU country” covers 27 Member States since Croatia was not a EU member at the time the data collection took place. Only in Luxembourg did parents born in other EU Member States (48.4 %) outnumber those born in the present country of residence. In all but eight countries (Poland, Lithuania, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Estonia and Latvia) the rates recorded for the population with a father born in another (other than EU-27) European country were higher than the respective percentages for those born in another EU Member State. By contrast, in 8 EU Memeber States (the Netherlands, Ireland, Luxembourg, Spain, Belgium, Cyprus, France and the United Kingdom) the percentage of the population with a father with a non European background was higher than 7.0 %, reaching 12.3 % in the United Kingdom and 12.1 % in France. Switzerland also reported a high rate (7.7 %).
As regards the country of birth of the mother, the picture is the same in most countries. On average, the rate for the EU-28 population having a mother whose country of birth was the same as their present country of residence was 86.9 %, which is somewhat higher than that for the father. Luxembourg is again ranked first for the proportion of the population whose mother had been born in another EU Member State, at 49.9 % of its total population.
Parents’ level of education
The educational level of parents is a key factor affecting the future socio-economic situation of their children. In Europe, more than half of adults were raised with a father or mother having completed at most lower secondary education. Figures 3 and 4 present the proportion of the population whose father’s or mother’s highest level of education attainment was high (first stage of tertiary education and second stage of tertiary education), medium (upper secondary education and post-secondary non-tertiary education) or low (pre-primary, primary or lower secondary education) and very low (could not read nor write in any language).
The figures show that on average the percentages of the population with a father or mother with low educational attainment are much higher than for those with a father or mother with higher levels of education. More specifically, for 59.1 % of the EU-28 population their father had not attained upper secondary education, when they were 14. This percentage is 7.8 pp higher for those having a mother who had achieved only low or very low education. At the other end of the spectrum, 13.3 % of Europeans had a father with high educational attainment while 8.4 % had a mother with a high level of education.
However, variations across the EU are considerable for both the father’s and mother’s educational attainment. In 2011 the proportion of population having lived with a low skilled father ranged from 92.6 % in Portugal, 84.2 % in Romania and 83.6 % in Spain to 15.0 % in Germany. By contrast, in seven countries - Germany (26.4 %), the Netherlands (24.3 %), Estonia (21.5 %), Belgium (21.4 %), Denmark (21.4 %), Sweden (20.9 %) and Finland (20.6 %) - one fifth or more of the population had a father with high educational attainment. Switzerland also recorded a high rate which was equal, at 17.3 %, to that recorded in the United Kingdom. The highest rate however was found in Norway (29.3 %).
The education profile of mothers does not differ significantly. Fewer than one in ten of Europeans (8.4 %) had a mother with a high level of education, and only one in four (24.8 %) had a mother who had reached upper secondary education. While in some Southern countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy) high percentages of low educated mothers were recorded, in some Nordic countries (Sweden and Norway) as well as in Germany and Estonia less than 40.0 % of the population had a low skilled mother.
The largest differences, when comparing the population with a highly educated father with those that lived in households with a highly educated mother, were reported in Germany (15.5 pp), the Netherlands (13.1 pp), Austria (10.1 pp) and Switzerland (10.7 pp). Finally, in five countries (Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Sweden and Estonia) the rates for the population whose mother had attained high education are higher than that of the father’s.
Parents’ activity status
The activity status of the parents affects significantly the conditions in which teenagers live and develop. In the EU, the proportion of the population with a father in employment (either employee or self-employed) exceeded 96.0 %. As shown in Table 2 this percentage was greater than 90.0 % in all countries.
In detail, figures on the activity status of the father reveal that the majority of the population had a father who was an employee, with by far the highest percentages recorded in Lithuania (96.9 %) and Slovakia (96.8 %), followed by Estonia, Latvia (both 96.4 %), the Czech Republic (95.8 %), Bulgaria (95.7 %) and Hungary (92.8 %). With regard to the population with a self-employed father, the percentages did not exceed 30.0 % in any country, except for Cyprus (38.0 %) and Greece (51.2 %). In Greece in particular the percentage of the population having a self-employed father was slightly higher than that for those with an employed father (47.8 %).
By contrast, the percentages of the population that, as teenagers, lived in a household where the father’s activity status was “unemployed” or “in retirement” or “fulfilling domestic tasks”, were considerably smaller, reaching at most around 5.0 % in all countries.
On the other hand, the activity status of the mother is almost equally split between employment and engagement on home duties (Table 3). In 14 EU countries as well as in Iceland and Norway, more than half of the population had a mother who was an employee with the highest rates reaching 92.9 % in Estonia, 91.1 % in Latvia and 90.6 % in the Czech Republic. The percentage of the population with a mother fulfilling domestic tasks varied across the Member States, from 5.3 % in Estonia and 5.7 % in Finland to at least 50.0 % in Belgium, Greece, Luxembourg, Croatia, the Netherlands, Italy, Ireland and Spain, peaking at 89.3 % in Malta.
Self-employment of mothers was less frequently recorded in Europe (9.5 %). Greece, Poland and Portugal were exceptions, each with more than one in five citizens, as teenagers, living in a household with a self-employed mother.
The smallest differences, comparing the percentages of the population with a father at work, i.e. either employee or self-employed, with that for working mothers, were recorded in Lithuania (9.6 pp), Bulgaria (7.6 pp), the Czech Republic (6.8 pp), Finland (5.9 pp), Latvia (5.7 pp), and Estonia (4.5 pp).
Financial situation of the household
Another determinant factor for young people’s future life is the financial situation of the household. Figures in Table 4 show that in all countries a very good, or good, or moderately good household financial situation was reported at a higher frequency than a very bad, or bad, or moderately bad financial situation. In detail, almost 71.0 % of the EU-28 population considered that the financial situation of the household in which they lived in as teenagers was either very good or good or moderate good, while 29.5 % felt that it was very bad, or bad, or moderately bad. Exceptionally, in Slovenia, the percentage of the population assessing the financial situation of their household at the age of 14 as very bad, or bad, or moderately bad, was 9.1 pp higher than the percentage for those with a positive assessment. Variations across countries are observed for all categories of the financial situation of the household in which citizens lived as teenagers.
More than one quarter of the EU population felt that the financial situation of their household was good. The percentages ranged from 12.6 % in Slovenia to 46.8 % in the Netherlands. Low percentages were reported in Romania (12.9 %), Portugal (14.3 %) and Italy (18.1 %) while among the top ranked countries were Belgium and Sweden (both 38.8 %). Norway and Switzerland also reported high rates (40.3 % and 39.3 % respectively).
However, in most countries except for Malta, Belgium, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland, the percentage of the population with a moderately good assessment was higher than that for good. The percentage of the population that assessed the financial situation of their household as moderately good was 39.9 % on average, with Estonia (51.0 %) reporting the highest percentage and the Netherlands (28.3 %) the lowest.
In contrast, the financial situation of the household was assessed as bad by just 8.7 % of the EU population. Estonia reported the lowest rate (5.1 %) followed by Denmark (5.5 %) and Bulgaria (5.7 %). In Norway this rate was also very low (4.3 %). On the other hand the percentage exceeded 10.0 % in seven Member States: Portugal (17.1 %), Croatia (16.7 %), Romania (14.7 %), Slovenia (12.3 %), Cyprus (12.0 %), Greece (10.9 %) and Austria (10.8 %).
A moderately bad financial situation at the age of 14 was experienced by 16.9 % of the EU population. This percentage was by far the highest in Slovenia (33.5 %), followed by Austria (23.3 %) and Hungary (23.2 %). At the other extreme, this percentage did not exceed 10.0 % in Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway.
Finally, it is noteworthy that the share of the population who characterised the financial situation of their household either as very good or very bad are particularly low, not exceeding 15.0 % in any country.
Data sources and availability
Data in this document were extracted from a special module on ‘Intergenerational transmission of disadvantages’ of the EU statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) survey, which was carried out in 2011. All data are available as Excel files downloadable from the Eurostat website
The objective of the 2011 module on ‘Intergenerational transmission of disadvantages’ is to analyse the evolution of the results on this topic and in continuation of the former (2005) ad-hoc module on the ‘intergenerational transmission of poverty’. The extent to which inequalities persist across generations is considered to play a major role in explaining adult social exclusion. In particular, the parental educational background and or their socio-economic status could influence the poverty risk during adulthood.
- Intergenerational transmission of disadvantage statistics
- People at risk of poverty or social exclusion
- Social inclusion statistics
Further Eurostat information
- Income and living conditions in Europe – Statistical books
- The Social Situation in the European Union
- Youth in Europe: A Statistical Portrait
- Ad-hoc modules (Assessment and Data - Excel)
- 2011 module: Intergenerational transmission of disadvantages
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)
- Regulation 481/2010 of 1 June 2010 concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC)