Risk of poverty or social exclusion

In 2017, 20.3% of the Belgian population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must be reduced to 10.6%. The Federal Planning Bureauʹs projections indicate that this objective will not be reached. The risk of poverty or social exclusion is therefore developing unfavourably.

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Risk of poverty or social exclusion - Belgium - trend assessment

percentage of population

 200420052010201520162017202020252030
observations21.622.620.821.120.720.3------
projection ------------20.420.220.4
objective 203010.610.610.610.610.610.610.610.610.6

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2018), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps01, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 06/09/2018), calculations FPB based on Frère (2016), The population at risk of poverty or social exclusion in Belgium - Projection until 2030, Working paper 12-16 and Federal Planning Bureau and High Council of Finance (2018), Studiecommissie voor de vergrijzing - Jaarlijks verslag - Juli 2018.

Risk of poverty or social exclusion - Belgium and international comparison

percentage of population

 20042005201020122015201620172017//20042017//2012
Belgium21.622.620.821.621.120.720.3-0.5-1.2
EU28----23.824.823.823.522.4---2.0
//: Average Growth Rates

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2019), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps01, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 02/04/2019).

Risk of poverty or social exclusion by sex - Belgium

percentage of population

 20042005201020122015201620172017//20042017//2012
females22.923.721.722.322.222.021.4-0.5-0.8
males20.321.420.020.920.019.419.1-0.5-1.8
//: Average Growth Rates

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2018), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps01, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 06/09/2018).

Risk of poverty or social exclusion by age - Belgium

percentage of population

 20042005201020122015201620172017//20042017//2012
<1822.723.723.222.823.321.622.0-0.2-0.7
18-6421.221.920.021.321.721.720.7-0.2-0.6
>6422.023.321.021.216.216.417.1-1.9-4.2
//: Average Growth Rates

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2018), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps01, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 06/09/2018).

Risk of poverty or social exclusion by education - Belgium

percentage of population aged 18 years or over

 20042005201020122015201620172017//20042017//2012
less than primary, primary and lower secondary education32.332.132.434.935.434.334.20.4-0.4
upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education19.119.417.218.319.819.919.50.21.3
tertiary education10.010.09.011.410.510.19.1-0.7-4.4
//: Average Growth Rates

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2018), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps04, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 26/09/2018).

Risk of poverty or social exclusion by household type - Belgium

percentage of population

 20042005201020122015201620172017//20042017//2012
single person34.035.430.630.831.530.930.4-0.9-0.3
single person with dependent children57.851.749.652.448.953.049.7-1.2-1.1
two adults23.322.320.120.115.617.416.7-2.5-3.6
two adults with one dependent child12.713.513.015.812.913.215.11.3-0.9
two adults with two dependent children10.711.612.010.112.29.510.90.11.5
two adults with three or more dependent children20.523.420.621.724.122.020.50.0-1.1
//: Average Growth Rates

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2018), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps03, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 06/09/2018).

Risk of poverty or social exclusion by activity status - Belgium

percentage of population aged 18 years and over

 20042005201020122015201620172017//20042017//2012
employed5.76.36.56.66.16.36.40.9-0.6
not employed36.637.933.835.834.633.833.0-0.8-1.6
unemployed60.264.153.457.767.666.265.90.72.7
retired22.023.819.719.916.316.416.3-2.3-3.9
other inactive41.841.041.444.647.447.646.70.90.9
//: Average Growth Rates

break in time series: 2013

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2018), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps02, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 06/09/2018).

Risk of poverty or social exclusion by income - Belgium

percentage of population

 20042005201020122015201620172017//20042017//2012
quintile 180.482.681.283.382.384.584.80.40.4
quintile 216.817.614.916.515.113.211.6-2.8-6.8
quintile 37.57.64.45.15.64.03.3-6.1-8.3
quintile 42.63.52.22.11.71.21.3-5.2-9.1
quintile 50.91.61.51.40.80.60.8-0.9-10.6
//: Average Growth Rates

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2018), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps03, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 06/09/2018).

Definition: the share of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion is calculated as the ratio of the people belonging to at least one of three sub-populations and the total population. These sub-populations are people at risk of poverty, people living in a household with a very low work intensity and severally materially deprived people.

Data on the share of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion used here are based on the Statistics on Income and Living Conditions survey (EU-SILC) of the European Union. Statbel organises this EU-harmonised survey in Belgium and makes the results available, in particular to Eurostat. The data used here come from Eurostat, which publishes detailed and comparable results between EU Member States. Since these data are based on surveys, a margin of uncertainty should be taken into account. The confidence intervals for these data are available on request from Statbel.

Goal: the share of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion must be halved, i.e. decrease from 21.1% in 2015 to 10.6% in 2030.

The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs adopted by the UN in 2015 include target 1.2: “By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions”. In the Belgian context, it means that, by 2030, the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion must be halved, i.e. decrease from 21.1% in 2015 to 10.6% in 2030.

Moreover, the Europe 2020 Strategy (European Commission, 2010) also includes a target for Belgium: the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the European Union must be reduced by 20 million between 2008 and 2018. Belgium has committed itself to reduce this target group from 2.19 million people in 2008 to 1.81 million people in 2018. This corresponds to a decrease by 380 000 people.

As concerns the monitoring of the Europe 2020 Strategy and the setting of possible reduction targets at EU level by 2030, it should be noted that in the beginning of 2019, the EC presented a reflection paper with three scenarios for a sustainable Europe by 2030 (European Commission, 2019). In the first scenario, global and guiding SDG implementation targets would be defined at EU level and would endorse national SDG strategies. Under the second scenario, SDGs are used to guide the development of the post-EU2020 growth strategy, focussing on areas with most EU added value, including social inclusion and cohesion policies. The third scenario focuses on the EU foreign policy only.

International comparison: this indicator decreased in the EU28 from 23.8% in 2010 to 22.4% in 2017. On average, it is lower in Belgium than in the EU28. The difference is 3.1 percentage points. When Member States are divided into three groups, Belgium is part of the group with average performance and outperforms the European average in 2017.

UN indicator: the selected indicator corresponds to indicator 1.2.2 - Proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions.

Sources

  • SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals: United Nations (2015), Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015, document A/RES/70/1.

  • Indicators: United Nations (2017), Work of the Statistical Commission pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 6 July 2017, document A/RES/71/313.

  • UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/ (consulted on 26/04/2019).

  • Sustainable Development Goal indicators website: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/ (consulted on 26/04/2019).

More information is available in FR (French) and NL (Dutch).