The rate of poverty in Hungary is below the European Union average, a study in a report compiled by the Tárki research institute presented on Tuesday reveals.

Citing Eurostat data, the study found that 14.6 percent of Hungary’s population live below the poverty line compared with an EU average of 17.2 percent.

Hungary, however, is less competitive when it comes to international comparisons of the material deprivation rate. Altogether 44 percent of the Hungarian population cannot afford basic resources, compared with an EU average of 19.5 percent. According to the study, only Romania and Bulgaria have worse material deprivation indicators than Hungary.

The study, however, reveals a decline in the number of people who cannot afford heating or are late with paying their utility bills, state secretary for social affairs Károly Czibere, who presented Tárki’s Social Report 2016, said. Czibere attributed the improvement to government measures such as the utility bill-cut scheme and foreign-currency mortgage bailouts.

The editors of the report said in the foreword that the fundamental problem facing Hungary was that Hungarian society “as a whole” falls into the poorer half of European society. No more than roughly one-third of Hungarians can compete with their European peers in terms of living standards, educational attainment level, lifestyle, open-mindedness, tolerance and foreign language skills, the report said.

Hungary’s macroeconomic indicators in 2015 were encouraging, public finances improved and employment numbers went up, but problems facing the education and public health-care sectors have yet to be addressed, the report said.

The report concluded that social advancement in Hungary requires institutional reforms and an economic environment that promotes competition, innovation and value creation.

Source: MTI

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