There are estimated to be almost 60 million people living in poverty throughout the European Union. This bleak statistic underlines the value of this important book which explores the nature and extent of poverty and social exclusion in six European countries, namely: Austria, Germany, Greece, Norway, Portugal and the UK. The book focuses on four "life course" groups who might be considered particualrly at risk: young adults, lone parents, the sick and disabled, and the retired. The authors show how poverty is the outcome of the interaction between several factors including education, gender and family structure. They emphasize the importance of distinguishing between poverty and non-monetary measures of deprivation and isolation. Although the poor are more at risk of suffering from deprivation, the authors demonstrate that this relationship is more tenuous than many people suppose. Employing rigorous theoretical and methodological analyses they go on to relate their findings to the policy environment in each of the countries, which were specifically chosen to reflect differing welfare systems.
In this way the authors compare the impact of government policy on both the level of poverty and social exclusion, and on who is most at risk of experiencing them. Both statistically and in policy terms this book should be valuable reading for students and academics of economics and the social sciences, and policy makers at both the national and European level.