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PUBLICATIONS, Structural and Cohesion Policies

Rural areas and poverty

Written by Ana Martinez Juan,

A definition…

Old house in rugged landscape

biker3 / Fotoalia

When it comes to poverty, one of the key issues is defining what it means and how it can be measured. Two types of poverty are generally categorised: absolute or extreme poverty, that identifies the number of people below a fixed real poverty threshold (euros/person/day) and relative poverty, that identifies the number of people whose income is less than a concrete percentage (i.e.: 60%) of the medium household income. The Joint report by the Commission and the Council on social inclusion (March 2004) defines people as living in poverty if “their income and resources are so inadequate as to preclude them from having a standard of living considered acceptable in the society in which they live. Because of their poverty they may experience multiple disadvantage through unemployment, low income, poor housing, inadequate health care and barriers to lifelong learning, culture, sport and recreation”.

Poverty is interrelated with social exclusion , a condition defined by the joint report as “a process whereby certain individuals are pushed to the edge of society and prevented from participating fully by virtue of their poverty, or lack of basic competencies and lifelong learning opportunities, or as a result of discrimination. This distances them from job, income and education opportunities as well as social and community networks and activities”.

Another term associated with poverty is vulnerability . “People are in a vulnerable situation when their personal well-being is put at risk because they lack sufficient resources, are at risk of being in debt, suffer poor health, experience educational disadvantage, or live in inadequate housing and environment” (European Anti-Poverty Network ( EAPN ))

Poverty in the European Union Agenda

Since 2000 the European Union (EU) has provided a framework for the fight against poverty and social exclusion with the Lisbon Strategy (Lisbon European Council, March 2010). The Strategy asked Member States (MS) and the Commission to take actions to contribute on the eradication of poverty by 2010, adopting an Open Method of Coordination in this area. The EU designated 2010 as the “ European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion “. Its main objectives were to raise public awareness and understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty and social exclusion and to renew the commitment and practical action of the EU and MS to combat poverty and social exclusion. In 2010, the Lisbon Strategy came also to an end. Since then, the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (March 2010) has included poverty reduction in its five headline targets for 2020. The goal is to  to reduce the number of Europeans living below national poverty lines by 25%, lifting 20 million people out of poverty by 2020 compared to the year 2008 (116.2 million people were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU-27 in 2008). The achievements of this target are monitored by the indicator “ At risk of poverty or social exclusion ”, consisting in three sub-indicators monetary poverty , severe material deprivation , and very low work intensity .

Rural areas and poverty

Around 119 million people were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU in 2015 (Eurostat, October 2016), representing more than 23% of the EU population.

Poverty is not uniformly distributed across the EU and differs among social groups and geographical areas. Focusing on its spatial dimension, in the majority of MS inhabitants of rural areas are more at risk of poverty or social exclusion than urban inhabitants.  In 2014, 27.2% of the rural population were at risk of poverty and social exclusion compared with 24.3 % of the population living in urban areas. These figures vary considerably between MS. The countries with the highest poverty rates in rural areas compared with urban areas are Romania, Bulgaria and Malta. Within rural areas, poverty levels are higher in remote and sparsely populated areas , especially in the Southern and Eastern MS, where poverty is associated to rural isolation .

The report Poverty and Social Exclusion in Rural Areas (2008) identifies four categories of problems that characterise rural areas and determine the risk of poverty and social exclusion. They include: demography (for example, the exodus of residents and the ageing population), remoteness (such as lack of infrastructure and basic services), education (for example, lack of preschools and difficulty in accessing primary and secondary schools), and labour markets (lower employment rates, persistent long-term unemployment and a greater number of seasonal workers). The most vulnerable groups are children, young people, women , older workers, lower skilled workers and the unemployed.

Two concepts commonly used encompass the nature of the poverty facing rural areas: poverty of rural areas and poverty in rural areas . “Poverty of rural areas refers to the existence of certain disadvantages of rural regions, which result in a higher risk of poverty in those areas, when compared to urban areas (for example remoteness, level and quality of education, and labour market opportunities). Poverty in rural areas is a human extension of those disadvantages and it concerns the poverty of people living in rural areas” ( Employment and social inclusion , 2010).

Poverty reduction and EU Rural Development Policy Instruments

While combating poverty and social exclusion is one of the objectives of the Social Policy , especially though the European Social Fund and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived , the purpose of this keysource is not to focus on Social Policy. It intends to describe the instruments provided by EU Rural Development Policy (co-funded by the EU and MS) aimed at promoting social inclusion and poverty reduction. This keysource also provides a selection of information sources about rural areas and poverty.

EU Rural Development Policy 2014-2020 ( Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013 ) goes beyond agriculture and forestry and targets wider rural economic development. The inclusion of the priority “ promoting social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas ” as one of the six EU priorities for rural development, plays an important role in creating a wider variety of better quality jobs and in improving the overall local development.  Its specific areas of intervention or focus areas are a) facilitating diversification, creation and development of small enterprises, as well as job creation; b) fostering local development in rural areas; c) enhancing the accessibility, use and quality of information and communication technologies in rural areas. The relevant measures to contribute to this priority are “ basic services and village renewal in rural areas ” and “ LEADER ”, the community-led local development method for mobilising and developing rural communities through local public-private partnerships (local action groups). In a wider scope, one of the three long-term objectives of the EU Rural Development Policy 2014-2020 is to achieve a balanced territorial development in rural areas, including creating and maintaining jobs.

MS have incorporated the EU Rural Development Policy priorities and measures through their Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) of which adoption was completed by the Commission in 2015 (in total 118 RDPs in the 28 MS). According to the Commission, targets for social inclusion, poverty reduction, economic development allocated by MS represent 15% of rural development expenditure.  This budget aims to create 123,500 non-agricultural new jobs in rural areas. 77,500 of these are in relation to diversification actions and creation and development of small enterprises, while 46,000 are from actions aiming at fostering local development in rural areas.

Networking opportunities provided by the European Network for Rural Development ( ENRD ) and the National Rural Network can enhance the cooperation of local actors and improve the quality of the RDPs. ENRD has defined three main areas as working themes for the 2014-2020 programing period, being social inclusion one of them.

Overviews

Poverty in the European Union the crisis and its aftermath / Marie Lecerf. EPRS publications, in depth analysis, March 2016.
This publication aims to provide recent statistics on poverty and social exclusion in the European Union and to describe how poverty has hit some specific subgroups of European society since the onset of the ‘Great Recession’. The document also aims to analyse what were the main determinants of poverty since 2008 and to discuss recent developments in European poverty reduction policies.

Poverty risk, inequality and social exclusion / Eulalia claros and Verena Kern. DG EPRS, Infographic. December 2014.
The distribution of poverty, inequality and social exclusion varies significantly across EU Member States. Based on 2013 data, this infographic shows who is at risk, how equally disposable income is distributed, and how much MS spend on specific measures to combat poverty and social exclusion.

Simulating Poverty in Europe: the Potential Contributions of Employment and Education to Reducing Poverty and Social Exclusion by 2020 / Mohamed Ihsan Ajwad (et al.). The World Bank, October 2013.
This paper sheds light on the impact of improving employment and education conditions on poverty and social exclusion indicators. More specifically, it answers the following question: Will achieving the Europe 2020 national targets on employment and education lead countries to achieve the Europe 2020 poverty and social exclusion target with no other policy interventions? The simulation model analyzes poverty and social exclusion outcomes in response to changes in education completion rates and employment rates. The model is applied to ten of the European Union’s new Member States — Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia — and the model’s performance is evaluated through a validation exercise.

Structural and Cohesion Policies and the Fight against Poverty / Gonçalo Macedo (et al.). European Parliament, Policy Department B Structural and Cohesion Policies, 2011. See pages 19-26 for the Common Agricultural Policy.
This note examines what role, if any, the EU’s ‘structural policies’ play in fighting poverty and social exclusion. The latter include regional policy, the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy, the Common Transport Policy and education/culture policies. It also analyses these policies and sectors against the background of the economic and financial crisis.

Analysis

ENRD Workshop on “ The role of LEADER/CLLD and networking in supporting social inclusion in rural areas ”, 17 March 2016. Factsheets of the workshop:

Rural isolation of citizens in Europe / Volonteurope. March 2016.
This report bring together key findings from Volonteurope’s two years campaign on rural isolation, showing that rural regions across Europe do not represent a uniform group. While they are economically and demographically very important, they often lag behind urban and intermediate ones in a number of socio-economic indicators. An ageing and declining rural population is a growing problem in many Member States and improving access to services and infrastructure should be the cornerstone of all rural development initiatives in Europe. Rural isolation is a multidimensional issue requiring a multidimensional response, to combat it governments, businesses, citizens and civil society need to be pulling in the same direction. Rural communities have tremendous development potential, and it is important to recognise and foster this.Diversified investment in rural areas is needed to boost economic growth and employment opportunities.

International day of rural women 2015 compilation of an in-depth analysis and a study: workshop 15 October 2015: study / European Parliament, Policy Department C. October 2015. See particularly 2.3. Income distribution and poverty (pages 16-18).
Women play a major role in civil society and in economic growth in rural areas all over the world and their work is crucial for survival and provides means for households to escape poverty or to improve living conditions. The lowest employment rates among women in predominantly rural areas were found in Italy, Greece, Spain and Hungary. Increasing the rate of employment can help to reduce poverty and thereby improve economic, social and territorial cohesion. The share of population at risk of poverty in thinly populated areas is particularly high in those Member States with high poverty risk in general, particularly in Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Spain.

Rural isolation of citizens in Europe / Volonteurope, Policy Brief. December 2014.
This brief aims to introduce the problem of rural isolation, reflect on its realities and negative impact and assess its different dimensions. It also sets out current EU policies that address rural isolation and includes a series of successful and innovative case studies from civil society. The document also sets out a range of recommendations for addressing the problem of rural isolation.

The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: examples of projects supporting social inclusion / European Network for Rural Development, Projects brochure 2013.
Social inclusion projects co-financed by the EAFRD provide support that is tailored to the specific needs of rural areas. This covers dedicated assistance for priority groups from the countryside such as (among others) children in need, disabled people, elderly generations, those suffering from poverty including small farmers in certain Member States, immigrants and ethnic minorities such as the Roma. The projects reveal how EU rural development policy is playing an important role in promoting a more inclusive society and making rural areas a better place to live for everyone. This role will grow in the next programming period (between 2014-2020) since promoting social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas will be one of the EU rural development priorities.

The Territorial Dimension of Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe: interim report / ESPON, December 2012.
This report clarifies the concepts of poverty and social exclusion and analyses the policy structures and ethos, the indicators of poverty and social exclusion, the poverty mapping and rationale for social exclusion mapping and some case studies.

The Territorial Dimension of Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe: Annex I – Working Paper 1: Review of Concepts of Poverty and Social Exclusion / Hilary Talbot, Ali Madanipour, Mark Shucksmith. ESPON, December 2012.
This report is Working Paper 1 of the TIPSE (The Territorial Indicators of Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe) project. Its aim is to review the concepts of poverty and social exclusion as evidenced by both academic and policy literature, and to draw out socioeconomic characteristics commonly associated with poverty and social exclusion to provide a theoretical basis for the search for proxy indicators in subsequent work packages of the TIPSE project.

The Territorial Dimension of Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe: inception report / ESPON, June 2012.
Poverty and social exclusion are not ubiquitous, there is a high degree of variability across space, both between and within Member States. In addition to this many studies have shown that there are important micro-scale patterns of variation within NUTS 3 regions, and within cities. Achieving an overview, and a better understanding of these patterns is crucial to the success of continuing interventions in support of inclusive growth, for two reasons: (i) Because the geographic patterns provide many clues to the processes which underlie poverty and social exclusion, not least because they point to associations with other socio-economic indicators. (ii) Because it facilitates smarter targeting of policy, and thus minimises “deadweight” effects. The ultimate goal of this project is therefore to improve the evidence base for policy to promote inclusive growth. Reports and annexes of the project Territorial Dimension of Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe (TIPSE) are available in its webpage (EPSON).

Poverty in rural areas of the EU / Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission, May 2011.
This economic brief examines the latest statistics on the number and percentage of people at risk of poverty in the EU, focusing on thinly populated (rural) areas, and analyses the risk for different age groups and gender.

Employment and social inclusion / European Network for Rural Development. Rural Review Magazine n° 6, winter 2010.
The magazine focuses on three major aspects of the linkage between rural development policy and combating unemployment and social exclusion, namely:

  • Understanding the key employment and poverty challenges facing rural areas and rural stakeholders;
  • Exploring what rural areas and rural stakeholders can do to enhance employment, reduce rural poverty and strengthen social inclusion ; and
  • Identifying what role EU rural development policy and programmes can play in combating poverty and

Rural poverty and health systems in the WHO European Region . World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe, 2010.
Globally, poverty tends to have a rural face. In disadvantaged rural areas, the drivers of poverty are also the drivers of ill health. The health system, a determinant of health, is often not sufficiently equipped in rural areas to respond to the needs of the population, contributing to rural−urban health inequities. This short analysis of rural poverty and health systems in the WHO European Region is divided into four main sections: rural poverty in the Region; selected social determinants of health in disadvantaged rural areas; differences in health system performance and health between rural and urban areas; and the implications for health systems. This briefing is a follow-up to key European resolutions, charters and communications on how to reduce health inequities.

Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion in Rural areas . Conference organised by European Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, 2009.
The conference aims to highlight the need for enhanced cooperation with the different actors in the field of social policies, agricultural development, regional policy and statistics to fight poverty and social exclusion in rural areas.
Papers of the conference:

Poverty and social exclusion in rural areas: final report / Paola Bertolini, Marco Montanari, Vito Peragine. Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission, August 2008. Summary , main findings and leaflet .
The study, after identifying rural areas in the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA), concentrates on fifteen countries for the description of the main features of poverty in rural areas. The fifteen countries are selected in order to present a balanced sample of different geographical regions (Northern, Southern, Western and Eastern Europe) and social models. The fifteen countries are fourteen EU countries – Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, France, Germany, UK, Ireland, Slovenia, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Romania – and one EEA country – Norway.

Member States

Bulgaria

Poverty and social exclusion in rural areas: Bulgaria / Lilia Abadjieva. Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission, 2008.
The Report attempts an overview analysing the background and current situation in Bulgarian rural regions and rural economy. Traditionally, Bulgaria was a rural country where agriculture has been and continues to be an important sector. Agriculture is the dominant activity in the rural household economy. In Bulgaria, poverty in rural areas is extensive, about twice as high as in urban areas. Poverty reduction in the country as a whole requires a substantial emphasis on poverty reduction in rural areas. This in turn depends on progress in generating broadbased agricultural growth, as at least one component of a poverty reduction strategy.

France

Pauvreté et précarité dans les espaces ruraux: quelle voie pour une lecture géographique du phénomène? / Hélène Tallon. 52e colloque de l’ASRDLF Territoires méditerranées, agriculture, alimentation et villes, Julliet 2015, Montpellier.
L’analyse des dynamiques actuelles des espaces ruraux français apporte au chercheur son lot de paradoxes et de difficultés méthodologiques. Dans bien des cas, indicateurs de précarité et représentations positives de la qualité de vie ne convergent pas. Cette communication pose de manière très exploratoire la question de la prise en main de la problématique de la pauvreté rurale, telle qu’elle se présente aujourd’hui au géographe, en partant d’une analyse de la littérature et des études les plus récentes sur le sujet, couplée à nos observations de terrain.

Les pauvres en milieu rural et notamment les jeunes ruraux et néo-ruraux / Hélène Tallon (et al.). Observatoire national de la pauvreté et de l’exclusion sociale, Novembre 2015.
L’objectif de ce rapport est de mieux comprendre les difficultés vécues par les jeunes et les néo-ruraux dans leur milieu de vie, d’appréhender la représentation de l’espace de ces personnes ainsi que la manière dont ces représentations et ces pratiques spatiales impactent leur processus d’entrée dans la vie professionnelle pour les jeunes ou dans le territoire pour les néo-ruraux. L’audit fait ressortir la nécessité d’objectiver le rôle des collectivités locales et des associations dans leur aide et leur accompagnement des jeunes ou néo-ruraux en difficulté, en particulier dans leurs démarches d’insertion, en observant en particulier le phénomène de non recours aux prestations sociales et dispositifs d’accompagnement.

Pauvreté, précarité, solidarité en milieu rural / Inspection générale des affaires sociales; Conseil général de l’alimentation, de l’agriculture et des espaces ruraux. Ministère de l’alimentation, de l’agriculture et de la pêche, Décembre 2009.
Les phénomènes de pauvreté et de précarité sont, en milieu rural, moins bien documentés qu’en milieu urbain. Dans un premier tome ce rapport dresse un état complet des connaissances sur les phénomènes de pauvreté en milieu rural, notamment : la typologie des habitants concernés, la nature des difficultés rencontrées, leurs effets sur l’activité économique et sur le mode de vie de ces habitants, la nature des réponses apportées. Le deuxième tome est consacré à l’analyse détaillée de la situation dans cinq départements, Nord, Ariège, Seine-et-Marne, Hérault et Creuse.

Poverty and social exclusion in rural areas: France / Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission, 2008.
In France, poverty rates are higher in rural districts than in small cities, and slightly higher than in large cities: poverty and social exclusion are persistent phenomena in rural France. this report shows that, after having been neglected for decades, the territorial dimension of poverty and social exclusion has been widely recognized in France, as well as the need for locally specified policy measures. The risk now seems that these measures may be insufficiently focused, unequally activated by the least organized territories and groups, and not everywhere efficiently implemented. More efficient policy interventions could be based upon less ex ante monitoring, better ex post evaluation – including true impact evaluations of some key policy measures – and a real involvement of the State in providing tools and expertise, and in disseminating to the whole territory the lessons learnt by local, experimental projects.

Germany

Poverty and social exclusion in rural areas: Germany / Achim Vanselow, Claudia Weinkopf and Thorsten Kalina. Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission, 2008.
German policies against poverty focus primarily on improving access to work and on certain groups but do not differentiate by regional categories: In its second “Report on Poverty and Wealth” the German Government states that poverty is highly correlated to unemployment and that measures against poverty should primarily aim at creating employment and integrating the unemployed into the labour market. Particular policies for rural areas in Germany remain to be strongly focused on the agricultural sector.

Greece

Poverty and social exclusion in rural areas: Greece / Nikolaos Bouzas. Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission, 2008.
Five main features characterise rural areas in Greece: aging population with low pensions, difficulties in accessing services, gender, age and ethnicity inequalities in entering the labour market. The elderly are becoming a dominant feature of the population, especially in more remote rural areas. Problems in access to services and low pensions (generally low financial means) are the other common features of more peripheral rural areas. Concentration of the main services in urban areas can impact on the quality of life of groups already at risk of social exclusion: health services for elderly or disabled, child care facilities for female workers. The accessibility of schools is an other important question for pupils living in remote and small insular rural areas. Lack of opportunities of jobs and career, that is particularly severe for women and young people, often compels to choose between migrating in semi-urban areas or remaining unemployed/underemployed leading to human resources waste.

Hungary

Poverty and social exclusion in rural areas: Hungary / Gabriella Vukovich. Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission, 2008.
In Hungary, inhabitants of villages are more at risk of poverty than inhabitants of towns and cities (the difference between the capital and villages is almost threefold). The smallest settlements have larger proportions of risk groups, which have implications for income poverty and deprivation. Poverty is strongly influenced by household structure. Poverty and social exclusion is more likely in larger families; the risk of poverty in families with more than 3 children is 2.5 times higher than in childless families. There are other factors, such as: level of education, activity status which have a strong influence on the poverty rate.

Ireland

Older People in Rural Ireland: Income, Poverty and Deprivation / Irish Centre for Social Gerontology,  2012.
This paper is the second in a series that seeks to summarise key features associated with various aspects of ageing in rural Ireland. The paper aims to examine income, poverty and deprivation as experienced by older rural residents. It begins by outlining some of the evidence on income, poverty and deprivation of older Irish rural and urban people, before going on to explore issues associated with deprivation and poverty in rural areas.

Poverty and social exclusion in rural areas: Ireland / Patrick Commins. Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission, 2008.
Over the past decade, Ireland has had a strategic process in motion for combating poverty and social exclusion. This has been developed through various national partnership agreements and expressed through national action plans incorporating key targets and commitments. Institutional structures have been established to support implementation and monitoring, and to provide research information. Consistent poverty rates have declined. A considerable number of programmes and measures contribute, either directly or indirectly, to building an inclusive society. Some, such as housing policy, happen to have the opposite effect. The most effective measures include: employment and job training, EU farm-based payments, increases in social welfare transfers, and community- based programmes implemented locally by representative partnership structures. This overall positive picture cannot be taken to mean that poverty and social exclusion are no longer problematic in Ireland.

Italy

Poverty and social exclusion in rural areas: Italy / Paola Bertolini (et al.). Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission, 2008.
In Italy rural areas have followed highly differentiated paths resulting in many kinds of rurality: the great variety of social conditions has had implications on the quality of life, which ranges from rural “paradises” (like in Tuscany) to very disadvantaged areas. The Italian Statistical Institute (ISTAT) does not distinguish between rural and urban poverty. The most significant cleavage as regards the risk of poverty is found to be between Northern and Southern regions; this is confirmed by various indicators of deprivation, such as the general conditions of housing or access to services (hospitals, nursery). With regard to specific risks of poverty and social exclusion, three main features characterise rural areas in Italy: aging population, difficulties in accessing services, and gender inequalities in entering the labour market. The elderly are becoming a dominant feature of the population, especially in more remote rural areas. Problems in access to services are the other common feature of more peripheral rural areas.

Lithuania

Poverty and social exclusion in rural areas: Lithuania / Ruta Braziene. Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission, 2008.
In Lithuania the rural population’ poverty risk was three times higher than for inhabitants of the biggest cities. Rural population are more dependent on social transfers. The highest relative poverty rate is in rural areas and the lowest is in the biggest cities. Below relative poverty rate is almost three times higher for rural than for urban population. Rural areas in Lithuania could be characterized by emigration of young people, decreasing birth rate and ageing of population. Specific rural poor groups are the following: small scale agriculture workers, pensioners, multi child families and social risk families.

Poland

Poverty and social exclusion in rural areas: Poland / Elzbieta Tarkowska. Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission, 2008.
Polish poverty is largely recognized as rural poverty. Surveys conducted by the Central Statistical Office and other institutions show the extent of poverty in rural areas, which surpasses the respective values for urban areas. The research studies (both quantitative as well as qualitative) show also different forms of rural poverty, connected with former state agriculture or with fragmentation of land and lack of financial capital. Specific risks of poverty and social exclusion in rural areas have been identified. Children and youngsters from poor families find it difficult to access education (pre-school and school education); disability represents an important barrier; low labour market opportunities in local areas resulted in mass labour migration; and also, in certain villages, there is an apparent de-population and aging of the population. Another important problem is limited access of rural population to services (pre-school, health service, communication).

Portugal

Poverty and social exclusion in rural areas: Portugal / Florindo Ramos. Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission, 2008.
In Portugal socio-economic features of rural households, housing conditions and demographic indicators do not display any significant difference between rural and urban areas. With regard to specific risks of poverty and social exclusion, two main features characterise rural areas in Portugal: children and aging population. The elderly are becoming a dominant component of the population, especially in more remote rural areas. Problems in access to services represent another common problem of more peripheral rural areas. Concentration of the main services in urban locations can impact on the quality of life of groups already at risk of social exclusion: health services for elderly or disabled, child care facilities for female workers.

Romania

Community Centres for Lifelong Learning – An integrated approach to overcome economic, social and educational disparities in rural areas from the West Region of Romania (16-06-2015).
The Romanian Institute for Adult Education (IREA), together with the partners Swiss Federation for Adult Learning (SVEB) , the Romanian-German Foundation (FRG) and the Foundation Centre for Rural Assistance (CAR) , are implementing the project Community Centres for Lifelong Learning . The project has started in January 2015 and will be completed in January 2018. The purpose of the project is to enhance access to education for disadvantaged adults in rural areas.

Poverty and social exclusion in rural areas: Romania / Oana Gherghinescu. Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission, 2008.
In Romania rural population is much more endangered by poverty and social exclusion than urban inhabitants. Rural income per capita is lower with at least 22% than in the urban areas and this gap is increasing. The relative poverty risk in rural areas is more than double as compared to the one in urban areas (42% and 18%, respectively). The rural poor include: Roma households; households with more than 3 children; self-employment and unemployment; low educated people

Slovenia

Poverty and social exclusion in rural areas: Slovenia / Mateja Sedmak, Blaz Lenarcic. Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission, 2008.
Three main features which characterize poverty and social exclusion in Slovenia are: access to services, aging population and (youth) unemployment. It is important to stress that the recently proposed draft of The Rural Development Programme for 2007-2013 does not include any issues or actions concerning poverty or social exclusion in rural areas. Likewise, The Reports on Strategies for Social Protection and Social Inclusion do not pay any attention to poor or excluded individuals in rural areas. Therefore the main role of agricultural and rural development policies in responding to current dynamics in rural areas is to include groups at risk.

Spain

Poverty and social exclusion in rural areas: Spain / Elvira Gonzalez. Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission, 2008.
Spain is mainly a rural country, with more than 47% of its territory considered predominantly rural, according to the OECD methodology. Despite the importance of rural areas, only 15% of the population live in those areas and they contribute to just 12% of total Spanish GVA. The most worrying trends in terms of rural poverty can be found in the so-called non-competitive inland territories, whereas the coastal and periurban regions have achieved advantageous economic and social conditions. A large share of those areas is located in the northern tableland of the peninsula and in mountainous regions. The excessive population aging, the exodus of youth (especially women), and the decline of the agrarian sector are the main socioeconomic handicaps, which in turn are reflected in the lack of essential social services, transport infrastructures and communications.

The United Kingdom

Poverty and social exclusion in rural areas: UK – Scotland / Philomena De Lima. Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission, 2008.
It is widely acknowledged that rural Scotland is not a single entity and encompasses a wide range of areas from remote rural and island areas to those closer to larger urban settlements and towns. It is recognised that there are a number of risk factors associated with some rural areas in Scotland that results in increasing the vulnerability of some groups and individuals to poverty/disadvantage. These include: weak research and innovation capacity and lack of universities in some rural areas; lack of a strong diverse economic base; limited transport infrastructure increases the isolation and distance from markets for some rural areas; limited employment opportunities and the concentration of poorly paid and seasonal work; and demographic trends which include, ageing population, low birth rates and out migration of young people (DTI, 2006).

Rural isolation, poverty and rural community/farmer wellbeing – scoping paper / Mark Allen. Northern Ireland Assembly, Research and Information Service Briefing Paper, June 2014.
This scoping paper explores the topical issues of rural isolation, poverty and rural community/farmer wellbeing, which have been identified as topics of interest by the Members of the ARD Committee.

Third countries

Sustainable Poverty Escapes: Spotlight on Multidimensional Poverty / Vidya Diwakar. Chronic Poverty Advisory Network, November 2016.
This report focuses on multidimensional poverty, as measured by household deprivations in health, education, and living standards, using panel datasets for Uganda, rural Ethiopia, and rural Bangladesh. The aim of this study is to understand why some households are able to escape poverty and remain out of it -that is, they experience sustained escapes from poverty- while others escape poverty only to return to living in it again, and yet others remain trapped in chronic poverty. In particular, the report investigates the contextual drivers of households that build their resilience capacities, enabling them to escape multidimensional poverty sustainably and minimize the likelihood of remaining in poverty, returning to living in poverty after an escape, or becoming impoverished.

The State of Food and Agriculture: social protection and agriculture: breaking the cycle of rural poverty . FAO, 2015. 151 p.
Key messages:

  • Social protection programmes reduce poverty and food insecurity;
  • Programmes targeted at women have stronger food security and nutrition impacts;
  • Social protection stimulates investment in agricultural production and other economic activities. Social protection enhances nutrition, health and education, with implications for future productivity, employability, incomes and well-being;
  • Social protection does not reduce work effort;
  • Social protection has virtuous impacts on local communities and economies;
  • Social protection, by itself, is not enough to move people out of poverty;
  • There are clear opportunities to leverage social protection and agriculture programmes to further rural development;
  • A national vision is needed of how agriculture and social protection can gradually move people out of poverty and hunger.

Rural Poverty Report 2011 . International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), 2010. Summary of the report.
Released on 6 December 2010, the report contains updated estimates by IFAD regarding how many rural poor people there are in the developing world, poverty rates in rural areas, and the percentage of poor people residing in rural areas.

Platforms, networks and tools

European platform against poverty and social exclusion ( COM/2010/0758 final and SEC/2010/1564 final of 16/12/2010). The European platform against poverty and social exclusion is one of seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. It is designed to help EU countries reach the headline target of lifting 20 million people out of poverty and social exclusion . The platform was launched in 2010 and will remain active until 2020.

European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN). The EAPN is the largest European network of national, regional and local networks, involving anti-poverty NGOs and grassroot groups as well as European Organisations, active in the fight against poverty and social exclusion. It was established in 1990. At present, EAPN is a network of 31 national networks of voluntary organisations and grassroots groups and 18 European organisations.

Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT). The Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission supports this initiative. More information in the FAQ and in this brochure .

Statistics

Europe 2020 indicators – poverty and social exclusion / Eurostat, March 2016.

In the majority of Member States, people in rural areas are more at risk of poverty or social exclusion. In 17 Member States, people living in rural areas were at the highest risk of being poor or socially excluded. The countries with the highest poverty rates in rural areas compared with urban areas are Romania (27.1 percentage points higher), Bulgaria (21.4 percentage points higher) and Malta (20.6 percentage points higher). In other countries, such as Austria and Belgium, the opposite is true: a clearly larger share of urban residents live in poverty or social exclusion compared with residents in rural areas or towns. There are also countries, such as the Czech Republic, Finland and Slovenia, where the poverty rates in urban, rural or suburban areas differ only slightly.

Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2011 / Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission, 2011.
Chapter 5.8. Risk of poverty in sparsely populated areas of Southern Europe and New Member States, low work intensity in the towns of Western Europe (pages 130-133).

Discussion

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