The FINANCIAL — A quarter (25.3%) of the population aged 16 or over in the European Union (EU) reported long-standing limitations, i.e. some or severe long-standing limitation in usual activities due to health problems in 2015.
This means that they feel limited in performing everyday activities, such as studying at school, occupational activities, housekeeping or participating in leisure activities for six months or longer.
In 2015, women were more likely to report long-standing limitations than men. In the EU, a gap of 4.5 percentage points can be observed between the share of long-standing limitations among women (27.5%) and men (23.0%). Moreover, the reported long-standing limitation tends to decrease with the level of income. Almost a third (31.2%) of the poorest (i.e. the 20% of the population with the lowest income) in the EU reported long-standing limitations in usual activities, compared with 17.0% of the richest (i.e. the 20% of the population with the highest income).
Lowest shares of long-standing limitation in Malta and Sweden, highest in Latvia and Portugal
Across the EU Member States in 2015, the lowest proportions of self-perceived long-standing limitations in usual activities were reported in Malta (9.7%) and Sweden (11.1%), and the highest in Latvia (38.4%), Portugal (36.1%), Croatia (35.1%), Estonia (35.0%), Austria and Finland (both 33.1%).
In all EU Member States, the share of women reporting long-standing limitations was higher than for men, with the widest gaps being observed in Portugal (41.0% for women vs. 30.6% for men, or a difference of 10.4 percentage points – pp), Finland (9.4 pp), the Netherlands and Romania (both 8.8 pp) as well as Latvia (8.7 pp). In contrast, the situation was more balanced between genders in Germany (21.7% for women vs. 20.6% for men, or a 1.1 pp difference), Cyprus (1.2 pp), Ireland and Malta (both 1.8 pp).
Income seems to play a role
In every EU Member State except Greece, the share of those reporting some or severe long-standing limitations in usual activities was much higher in the two lowest income groups and decreased progressively as income increased.
The largest difference in the share of the population reporting some or severe long-standing limitations between the poorest part (first or second quintile depending on which has the highest level of limitations in the country) and the richest part (fifth quintile) of the population was observed in Estonia (51.8% for the poorest vs 18.3% for the richest, or a difference of 33.5 pp), followed by Lithuania (30.7 pp) and Latvia (29.0 pp). In contrast, the smallest differences in the shares of self-reported long-standing limitations were notably observed in Italy (10.9 pp) and Romania (11.3 pp).