The situation in Europe
Some of the problems to do with access to a home as well as living conditions discussed in the analysis of housing-related social needs are not exclusive to Spain. It is difficult, however, to identify the differences and similarities with other countries due to the very different ways in which housing is accessed in each country and the nature of public policies on the issue. Consequently, we find a wide variety of experiences within the EU related to this aspect of social needs.
One of the reasons for the variation between European countries is the marked difference in types of home occupancy. According to Eurostat figures, 70% of the population in the EU-28 live in homes they own, though there is considerable disparity between countries, with percentages of around 50% in Austria and Germany and of over 90% in Croatia, Slovakia and Romania. One in four citizens in the EU own their homes but are still paying a mortgage on them, though the percentage of the population that this applies to varies from country to country, ranging from less than 15% in countries in eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, with the exception of Portugal (37%) and Spain (30%), to nearly 50% of the population in northern countries.
The indicator selected for comparing the challenge of access to housing is the cost of renting a home. An analysis of the values of this indicator in each country reveals the striking fact that there seems to be no clear relationship between the level of wealth and the prevalence of this problem, with various countries, Spain among them, that rank lower than would be expected given their GDP per capita. Spain particularly stands out in the European context: it occupies the lowest position in the ranking, both before the financial crisis and in recent times.
1. Spain’s position in an EU ranking of housing-related social needs (from best to worst)