SILC 2017: Provisional estimates of Social Deprivation and Housing problems

In a news release the National Statistics Office (NSO) has published today a summary of The European Statistics on Income and Living Conditions Survey (EU-SILC) which is a harmonised statistical enquiry which aims to collect comparable data on income, health and disability, employment, and material deprivation. This news release provides salient indicators on material deprivation in summary form, derived from the EU-SILC survey carried out in 2017.

European statistics on material deprivation are compiled basing on the capacity, or otherwise, of households to afford a number of items from a set of nine standard items, which were established at European level as the most relevant components for the measurement of this variable. As a result, two major constructs: the Material Deprivation indicator and the Severe Material Deprivation indicator, are deduced.

A household is deemed to be materially deprived (MD) if it does not afford at least three of the nine deprivation items, and severely materially deprived (SMD) if it does not afford at least four. In 2017, the material deprivation rate stood at 8.0 per cent, whereas the severe material deprivation rate stood at 3.3 per cent. Compared to 2016, these rates decreased by 2.3 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively.

From the point of view of age group, persons most affected by material deprivation emerged as those under 18 years of age. In 2017, an estimated one in ten children lived in conditions of material deprivation, while one in twenty children was in a state of severe material deprivation.

When looking into specific deprivation items, just over a third of the surveyed population, or 34.1 per cent, said that their household could not afford to pay for a one-week annual holiday away from home. Furthermore, 15.8 per cent said that their household would not be able to settle an unexpected financial expense of €650 and over. On in five persons said that their household had been in arrears on mortgage or rent payments, utility bills, hire purchase instalments or other loan payments. By contrast, persons who said that their household could not afford to own a washing machine, colour TV, or telephone (including mobile phone) was negligible.

Secondary indicators on material deprivation

The EU-SILC survey also collects supplementary statistics on material deprivation and social exclusion from persons living in households aged 16 and over, which complement the official statistic on severe material deprivation. The following is a summary of salient results emerging from the analysis of these indicators.

Les than five per cent of the surveyed population said that they could not afford very basic needs, such as replacing worn-out clothes with new (not second-hand) ones or owning two pairs of properly-fitting shoes (including a pair of all-weather shoes).

On the other hand, from the lens of indicators considered to reflect the quality o social life, 7.2 per cent indicated that they could not afford to get together with friends/family (relatives) for a drink/meal at least once a month, while 13.3 per cent stated that they could not regularly participate in leisure activity (such as sport or attending a concert). In all instances mentioned below, females turned out to be more disadvantaged than males.

When respondents were asked whether they were able to spend small amounts of money each week for their own use or whether they have an internet connection for personal use at home, 11.3 per cent and 1.7 per cent respectively said that they could not afford these. These aged 35-64 were slightly less likely to afford spending a small amount of money on themselves (12.4 per cent) while those aged 65 and over (2.6 per cent) made up the largest proportion who could not afford a home internet connection for personal use.

Problems with main dwelling

Households were also asked to state whether they were experiencing problems with their main dwelling. A quarter of the surveyed households complained of noise made by neighbours or from the street (such as traffic, business, factories etc.) Problems with pollution, grime or environmental problems were indicated by nearly 27 per cent of the households. Issues of crime, violence or vandalism in the area were a concern to one in ten households, as were issues of leaking roofs, damp walls/floors/foundation or rot in window frames or floor. A small share of households – less than 1 per cent – said that they did not have access to a bath or shower for the sole use of the household.

In 2017, 40 per cent of households reported at least one of these problems. This share is 4 percentage points less than the rate derived the previous year. At district level, most districts registered decreases in shares of reported problems when compared to 2016, the exception being the Western district. The Northern Harbour district had the highest share of households reporting such problems, at nearly 50 per cent. The lowest share of households reporting at least one of these problems was registered in Gozo and Comino district, at 28.4 per cent.