The ECB admits people in Europe are getting poorer

Europe became poorer and more unequal in the last few years, according to a massive household survey conducted by the European Central Bank.

The ECB’s Household Finance and Consumption Survey drew data from 84,000 homes in 18 euro-currency countries. It was published this December and covers 2010-2014, the most recent period available.

The highlights suggest that fallout from the Great Financial Crisis continued to impoverish most Europeans, and that European governments largely failed to increase or spread wealth more widely among their people.

“At the top of the wealth distribution, the wealthiest 10% of households own 51.2% of total net wealth; at the bottom, about 5% of households have negative net wealth, i.e. the value of their liabilities exceeds the value of their assets,” the study says.

Other highlights include:

  • The median of Europeans’ net wealth is €104,100 (roughly the same amount in US dollars).
  • The poorest 10th percentile has net wealth of less than one hundredth of the median, just €1,000.
  • The 90th percentile have €496,000, or five times the median.
  • The 95th percentile have seven times the median, or €743,900.

Most Europeans’ net wealth consists of property:


But the value of that property has declined by a median loss of 12%. Homeowners with a mortgage lost 20%, due largely to their increased leverage. Here is what the change in “household main residence” (HMR) looked like in a chart:


The Gini coefficient — a measure of inequality based on an index — increased from 68.0% to 68.5%, meaning that the continent became a marginally more unequal place than it was before. “The ratio between the 80th and 20th percentile widened by 2.3%, from 40.1 to 41.0,” the ECB said, and “the share of wealth of the wealthiest 5% of households increased from 37.2% to 37.8%.”

This is how income is distributed by age:


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