The 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion (EY2010) is supporting the work of the EU and its Member States to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by vulnerable groups in society.
Those most at risk of poverty include older people, large and single-parent families, children and young people, people with disabilities, immigrants and those from ethnic minorities (including Europe’s 10 to 12 million strong Roma community). Across all of these groups, women are more exposed to poverty and social exclusion than men.
Compared to the majority of Europeans, people from vulnerable groups are far more likely to have to cope with poor housing, homelessness, unemployment, low educational attainment, financial exclusion and over-indebtedness.
The reason why some sections of society are more at risk depends on a number of factors and circumstances.
For example, not earning enough despite being in paid employment can result in large and single-parent families living at or below the poverty line. Likewise, having limited or no access to adequate child-care can make it difficult for parents to meet the demands of both work and family life.
This situation contributes to the fact that about 19 million children in the EU live in poverty.
At the other end of the age scale, about 19% of EU residents aged 65 and over are at risk of poverty and social exclusion. This is often because their pensions do not adequately cover their living costs. Older people are also at great risk of social isolation, especially if they live alone.