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How Much Are Individuals Left Behind in Central and Eastern Compared to Western European Countries? A Fuzzy Comparative Analysis

Working Paper 2023-654


This paper examines the extent to which individuals of Central and Eastern European (CEE) member countries of the EU are left behind compared to individuals from Western European (WE) countries, as well as across CEE countries. To this end, according to the principle of ‘Leaving no one behind’ (LNOB) of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, a fuzzy approach is applied to a multidimensional setting made up of income, material deprivation, and work intensity. Comparing both blocs of countries, three decades after transitions to liberal democracy and market economies of CEE countries, a certain process of convergence between them is observed over the period 2007–2019 essentially as a result of two processes: a decrease in the level individuals were left behind in the CEE countries, and an increase in the level individuals were left behind in the WE countries in the years following the 2007–2008 financial crisis. Differences in the degree individuals were left behind along the income distribution are also analysed. Specifically, it is found that the extent to which individuals were left behind in both blocs in 2007 differs except in the tails. In contrast, the degree individuals were left behind in 2019 is very similar along the distribution for both the CEE and WE blocs and similar to the levels of the WE bloc in 2007. Focusing on the CEE countries, significant disparities among countries regarding the degree of being left behind and its distribution are also revealed. This finding may be related to the models of capitalism implemented, which ranged from mixed economy models (Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Slovakia), where citizens are less left behind, to Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Romania, characterised by more market-based models where people lag further behind.

Authors: Elena Bárcena-Martín, Francisca García-Pardo, Salvador Përez-Moreno.

Keywords: Leaving no one behind, income, material deprivation, work intensity, fuzzy approach, Central and Eastern European counties
JEL: I30, O57, C02