The crisis and rising unemployment have encouraged Western Europeans to save more. The Germans, Belgians and French are putting aside as much as 15-17% of their incomes, notes Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, which points out that “in poorer EU states, such as Baltic Republics, Hungary and Poland, the savings rate is two or even three times lower”.
However, this is not because of financial extravagance: “The incomes of residents in these countries are so limited in comparison to their expenses that they simply can’t afford to save more”, explains an expert quoted by DGP. At the beginning of the decade, the average Pole could put by 11-12% of his income, now that figure has declined by 30%. The main reason for the change has been a slump on property markets, which traditionally absorb the bulk of surplus income. In line with Eurostat’s methodology, mortgages are a form of saving. The decline in house prices has lowered the real value of mortgage installments, and thus reduced the overall level of saving.