Within the EU, the Maltese are among the least likely to believe that poverty is on the increase or that their financial situation will worsen, a survey commissioned by the European Commission suggests.
But while Maltese respondents’ estimation of their country’s poverty rate is also on the lower end, the Maltese are also among the most likely to report that they are struggling or falling behind with their financial commitments.
The recently-published Eurobarometer survey, which is based on fieldwork carried out last December aimed to monitor the social impact of the global economic and financial crisis, and shows that across the EU, 63% felt poverty in the area they lived in increased over the previous year, while 80% and 67% believed it increased in their country and in the EU respectively.
But Maltese respondents were significantly more optimistic about their country and somewhat more pessimistic about the EU. Just 41% of Maltese said poverty increased in the area they lived in, and while 62% believed poverty increased in Malta, this was actually the third-lowest rate within the EU.
Nevertheless, a slightly lower proportion, 59%, believed that poverty increased in the EU.
Across the EU, women were slightly more likely to believe poverty increased than men, and the likelihood of declaring poverty was increasing was somewhat inversely correlated to respondents’ wealth.
The Maltese were also somewhat more optimistic about their financial situation than their fellow Europeans, with just 25% believing their situation would worsen over the coming year, compared to an EU average of 36%. Further questions also suggested that the Maltese were less likely to believe that they risked losing their job or their home.
Just 14% of Maltese respondents believed that their pensions would be lower than they expected, compared to a 24% EU average.
The survey also showed that just 35% of Maltese respondents estimated that Malta’s poverty rate exceeded 20%, the third lowest rate in the EU.
But on the other hand, 42% said that they were struggling or falling behind with their bills, a rate only surpassed in Cyprus and Greece. However, just 13% said they had run out of money to pay for ordinary bills or essentials, one of the lowest proportions in the EU.
Greeks, unsurprisingly, were the least optimistic about their country and their personal situation, and also the most likely to report difficulties.
Practically every Greek respondent – 97% to be exact – said poverty was increasing in their country, 72% believed their situation would worsen in the coming year and 45% ran out of money to pay for essentials.
Just over half of Greek respondents feared that they risked losing their job within 12 months, and just over a quarter said that they risked losing their home.