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Dunne, Mary (2008) Eurobarometer survey on poverty and exclusion. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 26, Summer 2008, pp. 19-21.

PDF (Drugnet Ireland, issue 26) - Published Version

In September 2007, the European Commission published a Special Eurobarometer survey of public opinion about poverty and exclusion.1 This survey canvassed the views of 26,466 respondents in the 27 EU member states and 1,000 residents of Croatia. TNS MRBI carried out 1,000 interviews in Ireland.

 Perceptions about the existence and the causes of poverty
In general, poverty is seen as a widespread problem that affects the majority of people to some extent. Europeans feel that, in their own area, about three people out of ten (29%) live in poverty and one person in ten lives in extreme poverty.
Poverty is seen to affect more people living in new member states than in the former EU15 countries (63% vs. 32%). However, in the former EU15 countries there was a significant increase since 2002 in the proportion of people who perceive poverty to exist (+12%).2
Those surveyed were asked which of four statements as to why people live in need was closest to their own opinion (Table 1). 
The top three perceived reasons why people are poor or excluded from society are work related (Figure 1). The fourth reason given is addiction (29%). An examination of answers according to the respondents’ socio-economic background reveals a fairly similar ranking. For most groups, the same three items top the list, although addiction appears in the top three among people living in rural villages (33%), students and the youngest respondents (both 32%), managers (31%), employees (30%) and those who stayed in full-time education until the age of 20 or older (29%). Respondents classed by the survey as ‘not poor’ mention addiction more frequently (at 36%) than they do some of the work-related reasons. Those who believe poverty is a person’s own fault are most inclined to see alcoholism and other addictions as a reason for poverty (44%).
Unlike their European counterparts, Irish respondents see ‘alcoholism, drug abuse or other addictions’ as the most likely reason for poverty or social exclusion (49%).
[For clearer images of figures please see the PDF version]  

Causes of homelessness


The Irish also differ from other Europeans regarding homelessness. Again, they place higher significance on addiction, seeing it as the number one reason for people becoming homeless (60% vs. 46% for Europeans) (Figure 2).
All answers were examined in relation to the respondents’ own feelings of subjective poverty and degree of financial difficulty. The less economic strain people suffer, the more likely they are to see addiction as a cause of homelessness, with 56% of people with no economic strain holding this view, compared to 33% of people who suffer the most economic strain.
Standard of living
The survey finished with an examination of what Europeans consider acceptable in order to have a decent standard of living. Seventy-four items relating to financial means, housing conditions, durable goods, basic necessities and social integration were included in the survey. Most are deemed to be absolutely necessary (31 items) or necessary (26 items). There is also a great degree of consensus among Europeans regarding the requirements for children to live and develop well.
People’s views about what is required for a decent standard of living are most strongly influenced by the social norms, expectations and values of their country. The actual standard of living in a country seems to be less relevant.   
1. TNS Opinion & Social (2007) Poverty and exclusion. Special Eurobarometer 279. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_279.pdf
2. The 2002 report, Social precarity and social integration:Report for the European Commission based on Eurobarometer 56.1, was conducted under the framework of the Eurobarometer (special Eurobarometer 162 / Wave EB56.1).  It is available at www.ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb_special_en.htm.


Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Issue Title
Issue 26, Summer 2008
Page Range
pp. 19-21
Health Research Board
Issue 26, Summer 2008
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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