Risk of poverty greatest in Bulgaria
By Honor Mahony
Bulgaria has the highest percentage of citizens at risk of poverty in the EU, while the UK is home to the greatest wealth disparity between regions.
According to statistics published on Monday (7 October) by Eurostat covering 2008 to 2011, almost half of Bulgarians (49.1%) risk falling into poverty or social exclusion, with 40.3 percent of Romanians in the same situation and 36.6 percent of Latvians.
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The Czech republic tops the other end of the scale with just 15.4 percent in this social category, followed by the Netherlands (15.7%) and Sweden (16.1%).
Across the EU as a whole, 121 million people (24%) were facing economic hazard, meaning they were defined as being at-risk-of-poverty, severely materially deprived or living in households with very low work intensity.
When it comes to the wealthiest region, inner London, where GDP per inhabitant is 328 percent of the EU average, comes out top. It is followed by Luxembourg and the Belgian and EU capital, Brussels.
Employment rates fell in almost three quarters of 272 regions across the 28 member states between 2008 and 2011, with regions in Bulgaria, Spain, Latvia and Ireland witnessing the greatest decrease in jobs (drops of around 9 percent).
Regions in Italy saw the biggest differences in employment rates, with a 17.9 percent disparity between the regions with the highest and lowest joblessness rates.
Meanwhile, three regions in Spain (led by Andalucía) followed by three northern Greek regions saw the highest unemployment among young people, while three regions in southern Germany recorded the lowest rates (4-5%).
GDP per inhabitant is most equally distributed in Slovenia where the richest region was 1.4 times richer than the poorest.
The greatest discrepancy is found in the UK. The GDP per inhabitant in inner London is almost five times larger than in the poorest region.
In general, capital cities are the richest regions in each member state - only in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands were the biggest urban hubs not the most well off.
Meanwhile, 19 member states saw a population increase in 2011 with the UK registering the highest in absolute terms (an increase of 474,000) followed by France (333,000) and Italy (194,000).
The biggest population decrease occurred in Romania with a reduction of 58,000, while Latvia and Lithuania saw the highest rates of people leaving (16.0 and 14.8 per thousand inhabitants respectively).