Does the phrase "worse off" is to emphasize how desperate the situation is? Can't I use "worse than" instead?
The phrase "worse off" means to be in a worse situation than something else. "Worse than" expresses a similar meaning, but you are correct in that "worse off" emphasizes the desperation of a situation. So you could use "worse than" here, however, "worse off" makes the situation sound more dramatic and indicates that Europe had it way worse than something else. Ex: As a single mother of five children, she's worse off than you. Ex: Even though we have no money to give, we should help them because they are worse off.
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