Living conditions and social protection introduced
From Statistics Explained
- Latest update of text: October 2012
The demand for statistics on living conditions and social protection received a new impetus following the introduction of the social chapter of the Amsterdam Treaty (1997) which became the driving force for social statistics in the European Union (EU). This was reinforced by successive European Councils that have kept the social dimension high on the political agenda; moreover, 2010 was designated as the European year for combating poverty and social exclusion.
The Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth put forward by the European Commission provides a growth strategy for the coming decade. A European platform against poverty is one of the seven flagship initiatives of this strategy. Its goals are to:
- ensure economic, social and territorial cohesion;
- guarantee respect for the fundamental rights of people experiencing poverty and social exclusion, and enable them to live in dignity and take an active part in society;
- mobilise support to help people integrate into the communities where they live, get training and help them to find a job and have access to social benefits.
To measure progress in meeting the Europe 2020 goals, five headline targets to be met by 2020 have been agreed and translated into national targets in each EU Member State, reflecting different situations and circumstances. One of these targets is for there to be at least 20 million fewer people in or at-risk-of-poverty and social exclusion for the EU as a whole by 2020. The integrated economic and employment guidelines, first combined in 2008, are assessed through the use of a Joint Assessment Framework (JAF) within the context of the Europe 2020 strategy; guideline 10 concerns promoting social inclusion and combating poverty.
Eurostat data on living conditions and social protection aim to show a comprehensive picture of the social situation in the EU, covering indicators related to income, housing, material deprivation, poverty, social exclusion and social protection.
There are three main sources of data within Eurostat for the collection of information covering living conditions and social protection. These allow a wide portfolio of social inclusion, employment and social policy indicators to be compiled:
- the household budget surveys (HBS);
- EU statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC);
- the European system of integrated social protection statistics (ESSPROS).
The HBS data are collected approximately every five years; the surveys vary between countries in terms of frequency, timing, content or structure, with information available for all 27 EU Member States, as well as for Norway, Switzerland, Croatia, the former Yugoslav of Republic of Macedonia and Turkey.
EU-SILC is an instrument that aims to collect timely and comparable data on income, poverty, social exclusion and living conditions. The data is generally collected for individuals aged 16 and over, although some of the indicators are collected for households. EU-SILC provides both cross-sectional data and longitudinal data (typically over a four-year period). The legal basis for this data collection exercise is a framework Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council (EC) No 1177/2003 concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) that has been amended twice to take account of changes in EU membership; it is supported by a series of implementing regulations and special data collection modules that relate to the collection of secondary variables on a less regular basis.
ESSPROS is a common framework developed within the European statistical system (ESS) to provide data on social benefits and social protection, in terms of precisely defined risks and needs including: health, disability, old age, family and unemployment. The legal basis for the data collection exercise is provided by a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council (EC) No 458/2007 on the European system of integrated social protection statistics (ESSPROS). ESSPROS is composed of a core system that contains annual data from 1990 onwards and a series of modules which contain supplementary statistical information on particular aspects of social protection (for example, pensions‘ beneficiaries).
Further Eurostat information
- Child Poverty and Well-Being in the EU - Current status and way forward, 2008
- Comparative EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions: Issues and Challenges
- European social statistics – Social protection – Expenditure and receipts
- Living conditions in Europe – Statistical pocketbook
- Living conditions and social protection
- Quality of life indicators
- Sustainable development indicators, see:
- Social inclusion
All articles on living conditions and social protection