Risk of poverty or social exclusion (i01)

In 2021, the proportion of the Belgian population at risk of poverty or social exclusion equaled to 18.8%. The evaluation uses the proportion of the Belgian population at risk of poverty or social exclusion equaled (EU 2020) as an indicator. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must be reduced to 10.6%. This objective will not be reached by continuing the trend between 2004 and 2019 (assessment of November 2021; without taking into account 2020, because the Covid-19 pandemic impacted data collection). The proportion of the population at 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

 200020042005201020152019202020252030
observations--21.622.620.821.119.5------
trend and extrapolation (November 2021)--21.821.721.120.720.119.919.319.0
objective 203010.610.610.610.610.610.610.610.610.6

break in series: 2019; data collection 2020 impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic

Statbel; Eurostat (2021), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps01, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 21/06/2021) & calculations FPB.

Risk of poverty or social exclusion - Belgium and international comparison

percentage of population

 200420052010201320152018202020212021//20152018//20042018//20132018//2010
Belgium--------21.620.520.318.8-2.3------
EU27--------24.021.721.5----------
Belgium (EU2020)21.622.620.820.821.120.018.917.6-3.0-0.5-0.8-0.5
EU27 (EU2020)----23.924.623.821.621.5-------2.6-1.3
//: Average Growth Rates

break in series: BE 2019; BE 2020 data collection impacted by Covid-19 pandemic

Statbel; Eurostat (2022), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps01n and ilc_peps01, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 15/06/2022); Statbel (2022), Risque de pauvreté ou d'exclusion sociale - Chiffres, https://statbel.fgov.be/fr/themes/menages/pauvrete-et-conditions-de-vie/risque-de-pauvrete-ou-dexclusion-sociale (consulté le 15/06/2022); Statbel (2022), Direct communication 20/09/2022.

Risk of poverty or social exclusion by region - Belgium

percentage of population

 20112013201520182019202020212021//20192018//2011
Brussels-Capital Region--------38.936.435.3-4.7--
Flemish Region--------13.914.212.4-5.5--
Walloon Region--------24.826.024.90.2--
Brussels-Capital Region (EU2020)40.440.538.038.537.831.833.9-5.3-0.7
Flemish Region (EU2020)15.015.415.113.013.213.011.2-7.9-2.0
Walloon Region (EU2020)25.424.226.326.424.624.623.7-1.80.6
//: Average Growth Rates

The margin of uncertainty for this indicator is indicated in the text for the latest year. Break in series: 2019; data collection 2020 impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic

Statbel (2012), SILC Quality Reports 2011, https://statbel.fgov.be/nl/themas/huishoudens/armoede-en-levensomstandigheden/risico-op-armoede-sociale-uitsluiting/plus (consulted on 14/10/2019) and Statbel (2022), Risque de pauvreté ou d'exclusion sociale - Chiffres, https://statbel.fgov.be/fr/themes/menages/pauvrete-et-conditions-de-vie/risque-de-pauvrete-ou-dexclusion-sociale (consulted on 09/06/2022); Statbel (2022), Direct communication 20/09/2022.

Risk of poverty or social exclusion by sex - Belgium

percentage of population

 2004200520102013201520182019202020212021//20152018//20042018//2013
females--------22.821.720.620.919.4-2.7----
males--------20.519.419.419.718.2-2.0----
females (EU2020)22.923.721.721.222.220.920.019.518.1-3.3-0.6-0.3
males (EU2020)20.321.420.020.420.019.018.918.417.1-2.6-0.5-1.4
//: Average Growth Rates

break in series: 2019; data collection 2020 impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic

Statbel; Eurostat (2022), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps01n and ilc_peps01, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 15/06/2022); Statbel (2022), Risque de pauvreté ou d'exclusion sociale - Chiffres, https://statbel.fgov.be/fr/themes/menages/pauvrete-et-conditions-de-vie/risque-de-pauvrete-ou-dexclusion-sociale (consulté le 15/06/2022); Statbel (2022), Direct communication 20/09/2022.

Risk of poverty or social exclusion by age - Belgium

percentage of population

 2004200520102013201520182019202020212021//20152018//20042018//2013
<18--------24.123.523.022.020.5-2.7----
18-24--------24.623.921.521.220.1-3.3----
25-49--------19.618.017.617.116.4-2.9----
50-64--------24.822.622.422.522.0-2.0----
>64--------17.417.917.521.317.0-0.4----
//: Average Growth Rates

break in series: 2019; data collection 2020 impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic

Statbel; Eurostat (2022), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps01n, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 15/06/2022); Statbel (2022), Direct communication 30/09/2022.

Risk of poverty or social exclusion by age (EU2020) - Belgium

percentage of population

 2004200520102013201520182019202020212021//20152018//20042018//2013
<1822.723.723.221.923.323.022.320.318.9-3.40.11.0
18-2421.522.420.723.824.724.022.721.319.3-4.00.80.2
25-4917.618.917.619.919.617.817.516.315.9-3.40.1-2.2
50-6428.627.923.921.224.021.121.020.420.2-2.8-2.1-0.1
>6422.023.321.019.516.217.416.519.415.6-0.6-1.7-2.3
//: Average Growth Rates

break in series: 2019; data collection 2020 impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic

Statbel; Eurostat (2022), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps01, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 15/06/2022); Statbel (2022), Risque de pauvreté ou d'exclusion sociale - Chiffres, https://statbel.fgov.be/fr/themes/menages/pauvrete-et-conditions-de-vie/risque-de-pauvrete-ou-dexclusion-sociale (consulté le 15/06/2022); Statbel (2022), Direct communication 30/09/2022.

Risk of poverty or social exclusion by education - Belgium

percentage of population aged 18 years and over

 2004200520102013201520182019202020212021//20152018//20042018//2013
at most lower secondary--------36.735.534.337.934.5-1.0----
upper secondary--------20.319.319.320.619.2-0.9----
tertiary--------10.48.48.78.38.2-3.9----
at most lower secondary (EU2020)32.332.132.434.735.434.032.235.231.8-1.80.4-0.4
upper secondary (EU2020)19.119.417.217.919.818.819.319.018.4-1.2-0.11.0
tertiary (EU2020)10.010.09.010.710.58.48.68.17.9-4.6-1.2-4.7
//: Average Growth Rates

break in series: 2019; data collection 2020 impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic

Statbel; Eurostat (2022), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps04n and ilc_peps04, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 15/06/2022); Statbel (2022), Risque de pauvreté ou d'exclusion sociale - Chiffres, https://statbel.fgov.be/fr/themes/menages/pauvrete-et-conditions-de-vie/risque-de-pauvrete-ou-dexclusion-sociale (consulté le 15/06/2022); Statbel (2022), Direct communication 20/09/2022.

Risk of poverty or social exclusion by household type - Belgium

percentage of population

 2004200520102013201520182019202020212021//20152018//20042018//2013
single person--------32.731.330.832.731.0-0.9----
single-parent family--------49.751.545.846.339.0-4.0----
2 adults--------16.116.215.716.214.3-2.0----
2 adults, 1 child--------13.314.217.217.414.81.8----
2 adults, 2 children--------12.411.38.69.18.0-7.0----
2 adults, 3+ children--------24.625.726.323.822.7-1.3----
//: Average Growth Rates

break in series: 2019; data collection 2020 impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic

Statbel; Eurostat (2022), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps03n, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 15/06/2022); Statbel (2022), Direct communication 20/09/2022.

Risk of poverty or social exclusion (EU2020) by household type - Belgium

percentage of population

 2004200520102013201520182019202020212021//20152018//20042018//2013
single person34.035.430.633.531.530.328.630.129.6-1.0-0.8-2.0
single-parent family57.851.749.654.548.949.744.444.637.8-4.2-1.1-1.8
2 adults23.322.320.118.315.616.015.415.213.2-2.7-2.6-2.6
2 adults, 1 child12.713.513.013.412.913.917.317.013.30.50.60.7
2 adults, 2 children10.711.612.08.612.210.98.48.36.7-9.50.14.9
2 adults, 3+ children20.523.420.623.424.126.225.920.621.8-1.71.82.3
//: Average Growth Rates

break in series: 2019; data collection 2020 impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic

Statbel; Eurostat (2022), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps01, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 01/10/2022); Statbel (2022), Risque de pauvreté ou d'exclusion sociale - Chiffres, https://statbel.fgov.be/fr/themes/menages/pauvrete-et-conditions-de-vie/risque-de-pauvrete-ou-dexclusion-sociale (consulté le 09/06/2022); Statbel (2022), Direct communication 20/09/2022.

Risk of poverty or social exclusion by activity status - Belgium

percentage of population aged 18 years and over

 2004200520102013201520182019202020212021//20152018//20042018//2013
employed--------6.66.56.56.45.5-3.0----
unemployed--------70.367.272.171.964.2-1.5----
retired--------14.815.815.618.915.50.8----
other--------49.549.046.848.643.2-2.2----
employed (EU2020)5.76.36.56.06.16.26.25.55.1-2.90.60.7
unemployed (EU2020)60.264.153.469.867.664.470.469.658.6-2.40.5-1.6
retired (EU2020)22.023.819.719.416.316.215.517.815.2-1.2-2.2-3.5
other inactive (EU2020)41.841.041.445.547.447.445.245.940.8-2.50.90.8
//: Average Growth Rates

break in series: 2019; data collection 2020 impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Because of the widespread use of temporary unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic, the

Statbel; Eurostat (2022), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps02n and ilc_peps02, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 15/06/2022); Statbel (2022), Risque de pauvreté ou d'exclusion sociale - Chiffres, https://statbel.fgov.be/fr/themes/menages/pauvrete-et-conditions-de-vie/risque-de-pauvrete-ou-dexclusion-sociale (consulté le 15/06/2022); Statbel (2022), Direct communication 20/09/2022.

Risk of poverty or social exclusion by income - Belgium

percentage of population

 2004200520102013201520182019202020212021//20152018//20042018//2013
quintile 1--------82.986.282.081.573.7-1.9----
quintile 2--------17.712.310.913.713.7-4.2----
quintile 3--------5.22.84.83.64.1-3.9----
quintile 4--------1.60.71.72.01.60.0----
quintile 5--------0.70.50.60.60.94.3----
//: Average Growth Rates

break in series: 2019; data collection 2020 impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic

Statbel; Eurostat (2022), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps03n, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 15/06/2022); Statbel (2022), Direct communication 20/09/2022.

Risk of poverty or social exclusion (EU2020) by income - Belgium

percentage of population

 2004200520102013201520182019202020212021//20152018//20042018//2013
quintile 180.482.681.282.482.385.680.479.171.4-2.30.40.8
quintile 216.817.614.914.615.110.510.010.710.8-5.4-3.3-6.4
quintile 37.57.64.44.45.62.23.92.73.7-6.7-8.4-12.9
quintile 42.63.52.21.91.70.62.01.51.1-7.0-9.9-20.6
quintile 50.91.61.51.10.80.90.70.70.92.00.0-3.9
//: Average Growth Rates

break in series: 2019; data collection 2020 impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic

Statbel; Eurostat (2022), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_peps01, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 01/10/2022); Statbel (2022), Risque de pauvreté ou d'exclusion sociale - Chiffres, https://statbel.fgov.be/fr/themes/menages/pauvrete-et-conditions-de-vie/risque-de-pauvrete-ou-dexclusion-sociale (consulté le 09/06/2022); Statbel (2022), Direct communication 20/09/2022.

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 and socially deprived people. The indicator risk of poverty or social exclusion was adopted as part of the Europe 2030 strategy.

This indicator was already used in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy. However, two of the three sub-indicators had a different definition then: severe material deprivation is now replaced by severe material and social deprivation (with an updated list of items) and the persons considered to calculate the indicator on very low work intensity changed slightly.

The evolution of both indicators is commented upon below. The indicator agreed upon in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy, with data available from 2004, is always referred to as '(EU 2020)'. For the indicator agreed upon within the framework of the Europe 2030 strategy, data are available from 2015 at the earliest and there is no specific indication.

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. The income data used to calculate the sub-population of persons at risk of poverty always refer to the year preceding the survey year. This is also the case for the employment data used to calculate the sub-population of persons living in households with very low work intensity. The data used to calculate the persons living in a situation of severe material deprivation and of severe material and social deprivation refer to the time of the survey.

Statistics Belgium organises this EU-harmonised survey in Belgium and makes the results available, in particular to Eurostat. 2004 is the first year for which European harmonised data have been collected to calculate the indicator. 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. This margin of uncertainty increases as the indicator is calculated on smaller sub-populations. The confidence intervals for these data are available on request from Statistics Belgium.

From 2019 onwards, the survey methodology has been thoroughly reviewed for better accuracy. In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic impacted data collection. This makes it difficult to compare the results of SILC 2020 with those of previous years (Statbel, 2021). Therefore, they are not used to calculate and evaluate the long-term trend. It should also be noted that due to the widespread use of temporary unemployment during the Covid-19 pandemic, the category 'unemployed' in SILC 2021 includes not only the long-term unemployed, but also persons who have been temporarily unemployed for more than 6 months and who are generally living in less precarious conditions (Statbel, 2022).

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. Based on the EU2020 definition of this indicator, it is a decrease from 21.1% in 2015 to 10.6% in 2030. According to the new definition under the EU2030 strategy, it is a decrease from 21.6% in 2015 to 10.8% in 2030.

Moreover, the Europe 2020 Strategy (European Commission, 2010) also included a target for Belgium: a reduction of the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the European Union 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.

The European Social Summit in Porto on 7 May 2021 agreed new social objectives for 2030 between the European Council, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the social partners. These objectives were endorsed by the European Council (European Council, 2021a, 2021b). A reduction by 2030 in the number of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU of at least 15 million, including 5 million children, was proposed. Member States are invited to set national targets, taking into account the starting position of each country, so that they can be taken into account in the European policy cycle of 2022.

International comparison: the share of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion (EU 2020) decreased in the EU27 from 23.9% in 2010 to 21.5% in 2020. The average for Belgium over the period 2010-2020 is 2.7 percentage points lower than in the EU27. When Member States are divided into three groups, Belgium is part of the group with average performance and outperforms the European average in 2020. In that year, the Czech Republic ranked first with 11.9% and Bulgaria last with 32.1%.

Based on the new definition of poverty or social exclusion, it appears that in the EU27 this indicator decreased from 24% in 2015 to 21.5% in 2020. In that period, the average for Belgium is 1.3 percentage points lower than that of the EU27. When Member States are divided into three groups, Belgium is part of the group with average performance and outperforms the European average in 2020. In that year, the Czech Republic ranked first with 11.5% and Romania last with 35.8%.

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

More information is available in French and Dutch.