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TÁRKI Social Research Inc. is an independent, employee-owned research organisation that specialises in policy research in the fields of social policy and the social consequences of economic policies. This includes related data-collection, archiving and statistical activities. We recently increased our involvement in the areas of strategic market research and health policy analysis. In addition, we regularly contribute to basic research, in the areas of social stratification and inequality, and to the methodology of empirical social research.

Social Situation Observatory

Since 2005 TARKI has been a member of a consortium that monitors and reports on trends in income distribution and social inclusion - i.e. on the overall inclusiveness of European society. The European Observatory on the Social Situation - Network on Social Inclusion and Income Distribution (contract renewed three times - DG EMPL VC/2004/0462; VC/2005/0780; VC/2006/0905; VC/2007/0978) monitors regularly the situation regarding income and wealth, the impact of the tax-benefit system, access to services, questions related to poverty, and population groups particularly at risk of exclusion. This involves examining the relationship between income and living standards and the extent to which the former, as usually defined and measured, determines the latter, and, accordingly, how far households and the people living in them are able to participate fully in society and avoid deprivation and exclusion. It also involves consideration of other factors that influence living standards and involvement in society, particularly the tax and benefit system in place in different countries, and other measures implemented by governments to provide social support, as well as access to employment, decent housing and so on.

The Observatory includes three multi-disciplinary networks of independent experts covering health, demography and income distribution. The network on income distribution and living conditions consists of Applica in Brussels (consortium leader), the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research in Vienna, Tárki in Budapest and ISER at the University of Essex in the UK.
The task of the network is to analyse each year the latest data on income distribution, the risk of poverty and social deprivation across the EU and to examine major issues in this broad area and so contribute to the development of evidence-based policies.
The results of the analysis are published in the annual Monitoring Report, a series of Research Notes, Methodological Papers and Policy Briefs on specific issues of policy relevance as well as in the Social Situation Report.

Click here for the project website.

European Inequalities: Social Inclusion and Income Distribution in the European Union

Annual Monitoring reports

Annual Monitoring reports analyse the trends of income distribution and social inclusion in the member states of European Union. The research is primarily based on the EU-SILC data. Note, that there is a time lag between the year of publication of the Annual Monitoring Report and the income data used in the analysis. For example in Monitoring Report 2009, we analyse the EU-SILC data 207, which refer to the income year 2006.

Monitoring Report - 2009
Monitoring Report - 2008
Monitoring Report - 2007
Monitoring Report - 2006
Monitoring Report - 2005

Executive Summary: Monitoring Report - 2007
Executive Summary: Monitoring Report - 2006
Executive Summary: Monitoring Report - 2005

Research Notes

The series of Research Notes analyses specific themes with important policy reference. These papers are usually shorter than the annual report and examine a specific question not strongly related to income distribution, but with a significant relevance on it. The paper contains both methodological papers and policy briefs. TÁRKI staff contributed to the following research notes in the project.

ID First author Coauthors Title of the research note
Research note 5/2010 Tamás Keller Developing and testing a new measure of social climate - Analysis of the annual surveys on social climate and trends


In this research note, our aim is to work out subjective indicators that are suited to the measurement of the social climate. The term 'social climate' is used to refer to the aggregated 'mood' within a society (by analogy with weather and temperature). We are interested in what social concerns are on the minds of most people, as well as in what they think about their own country's economy and policy efficiency, and about the position of their household. In this essay, in addition to examining aggregated country-level data, we take steps to analyse the micro data and to formulate suggestions for measuring and reporting social climate.

ID First author Coauthors Title of the research note
Research note 9/2009 Márton Medgyesi István György Tóth, Tamás Keller Analysing the link between measured and perceived income inequality in European countries


Values and norms regarding income inequalities are important in the determination of both primary (pre-tax) incomes and the extent of redistribution through taxes and transfers. This research note, based on the 2009 Special Eurobarometer on poverty and social exclusion, first presents a country-level analysis of the relationship between measured levels of inequality on the one hand and inequality tolerance and redistributive preference on the other hand. It shows that attitudes to inequality differ widely between EU countries and there is a substantial internal variance in most of the countries. It is also shown that inequality tolerance - which is to some extent a proxy for inequality perceptions - do not always correspond to measured income inequality indicators. After testing various inequality and poverty measures, the analysis concludes that country level differences of inequality tolerance is most likely driven by levels of relative poverty. Using both time series and cross sectional analysis, the research note examines how the overall level of income inequality and poverty and a change in these relates to the measured level of acceptance of inequalities. Multivariate analysis shows that inequality attitudes on a personal level are driven by general political attitudes and subjective evaluation of the personal situation of the respondents, rather than by (education or labour market related) socio-economic factors.

ID First author Coauthors Title of the research note
Research note 4/2008 Márton Medgyesi Growth and inequality in the EU


The concern here is to analyse the effect of economic growth on the distribution of income in EU Member States. The paper reviews relevant empirical studies which have been carried out into this relationship over recent years and examines the experience across the European Union over the first half of the present decade, investigating in particular the different channels by which growth can affect income distribution, focusing its effect on employment and household circumstances as well as on the dispersion of earnings, which has tended to be the primary centre of attention of recent research.
The research note also reports empirical results on the different channels by which growth seems to have affected different aspects of inequality in EU countries during the first half of the present decade. The analysis indicates that there is no simple relationship between growth and inequality in the countries examined. Inequality of labour earnings has increased in both relatively high growth and low growth countries, though less in the former than the latter, and examples of declining inequality was also found in both country groups.
On the other hand, results show that the direct effect of employment growth in reducing inequality is more straight-forward. In countries where economic growth gives rise to an increase of the employment rate, inequality of labour income among those of working age tends to decline. Increasing employment tends also to reduce the proportion of those living in workless households, so contributing to a more equitable distribution of employment and labour income between households.

ID First author Coauthors Title of the research note
Research note 3/2007 Anikó Bernát How to Improve the Situation of Roma in Central and Eastern Europe


Roma are the largest ethnic minority in Europe and live in large numbers often under extremely disadvantageous conditions in many parts of Eastern Europe. The situation of Roma is far more unfavourable in most of the new Member States than that of the majority population. Around 4 million Roma live in these countries but their situation in terms of housing, health, education and employment is often not much different than that of those living in third world countries.
The biggest problem perhaps relates to education: for the vast majority of Roma (7-9 out of 10 Roma aged 15 and over), the highest level of education attained is elementary schooling. In consequence, barely 10-20% of Roma of working age are in work (whether in the formal or informal economy). Their situation is not only worse than the majority population living in close proximity to them but even more unfavourable than the majority population in the country concerned in general since Roma tend to live predominantly in the most economically depressed areas where job opportunities and the chances of having a reasonable standard of living are in any case lower than elsewhere.
A number of factors combine to create these disadvantages. One of the main factors is segregation at school which leads to underachievement of Roma children who are often sent to special schools for those with learning difficulties, or the mentally disabled in much larger numbers than children of the majority population. Lack of education and a job tends to lead directly to severe poverty with poor housing conditions and limited access to basic services, which in turn results in poor heath and high mortality and morbidity rates. The situation is reinforced by widespread discrimination in all walks of life: at school, on the labour market, in the health care system and so on.
A number of targeted policy measures and programmes have been implemented in the region in recent years to overcome these familiar problems; their effect, however, has been minimal. The priorities for policy are to focus on access to pre-school education, desegregating of schools, implementing labour market programmes targeted on the special needs of Roma at the local level and the potential opportunities open to them, In addition, medium- and long-term multi-dimensional projects should be launched covering housing, employment, education and health care with a conscious attempt made to ensure coherence between the different aspect. While, in general, access to data on ethnicity needs to be carefully controlled to ensure protection of human rights, the non-collection of any data at all denies policy-makers the quantitative information which would make it easier to design suitable policies and to monitor the effectiveness of the measures in place. There is a need, moreover, for anti-discrimination education and training for all those coming into regular contact with Roma if they are to be properly integrated into society.

ID First author Coauthors Title of the research note
Research note 1/2007 András Gábos Orsolya Lellkes, Lucinda Platt, Mayya Hristova and Terry Ward Child poverty and ethnic minorities


This paper is divided into two parts. The first is concerned with policies for addressing child poverty and reviews the studies carried out on this. The second part examines the incidence of child poverty among ethnic minorities on the basis of data from the EU-SILC. The data concerned are not directly on ethnic origin, since questions on this are not included in the survey, but relate to nationality and country of birth, which at least may be indicative of the position of ethnic minorities across the EU.
The analysis shows that children whose parents were born outside the EU have both access to a lower median income and a higher risk of poverty than those whose parents were born in the country concerned. This disadvantage does not seem to be wholly linked to the presence of children themselves in the households concerned, since a similar disadvantage is evident for households without children where all members were born outside the EU. The presence of children, however, seems to compound the disadvantage. In the EU as a whole, children whose parents were born outside the EU represented 5-6% of all children in the EU but make up 11-12% of all children with income below the poverty line. In Austria and Sweden, this proportion is over 25% and in Belgium and Luxembourg, around a third.
The disadvantage does, however, seem to be linked to employment. Children whose parents were born outside the EU are far more likely in most parts of the EU to live in households where no-one of working-age is employed and much less likely to live in households where everyone is in full-time employment. It also seems to be linked to low wage levels since in many countries a large proportion of the children concerned live in households where one or more of their parents is in work.
In the UK, which is one of the few EU Member States in which data on ethnic origin are collected, the evidence indicates that there are marked differences in the position of children from different ethnic backgrounds. The risk of poverty is, therefore, much higher for children in Bangladeshi or Pakistani families, for example, than for those in Indian families, which seems partly attributable to differences in family size. Accordingly, it is important to not to treat all children in ethnic minority families as if they were in the same situation.