Depth of risk of poverty

In 2020 (income year 2019), the depth of risk of poverty was 16.2% in Belgium. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must be reduced. Between 2004 and 2020 (assessment of June 2021), the trend is undetermined.

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Depth of risk of poverty - Belgium and international comparison

percentage distance to poverty threshold

 2004200520102015201920202020//20042020//20152019//2010
Belgium21.517.818.017.416.316.2-1.8-1.4-1.1
EU27----23.125.424.4------0.6
//: Average Growth Rates

The depth of the poverty risk corresponds to the difference between the median income of the population at risk of poverty and the poverty threshold, expressed in % of the poverty threshold. Break in series: BE 2019; data collection BE 2020 disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2021), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_li11, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 21/06/2021).

Depth of risk of poverty by region - Belgium

percentage distance to poverty threshold

 20122015201920202020//20122020//2015
Brussels-Capital Region21.820.520.120.0-1.1-0.5
Flemish Region17.815.813.213.3-3.6-3.4
Walloon Region18.517.418.416.7-1.3-0.8
//: 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 disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic

Statistics Belgium (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 Statistics Belgium (2021), direct communication, 21/06/2021.

Depth of risk of poverty by sex - Belgium

percentage distance to poverty threshold

 2004200520102015201920202020//20042020//2015
females20.716.818.017.215.416.0-1.6-1.4
males22.418.018.017.817.316.4-1.9-1.6
//: Average Growth Rates

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

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2021), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_li11, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 21/06/2021).

Depth of risk of poverty by age - Belgium

percentage distance to poverty threshold

 2004200520102015201920202020//20042020//2015
<1820.717.620.818.015.415.6-1.8-2.8
18-6424.019.321.119.818.618.0-1.8-1.9
>6418.014.313.011.111.512.6-2.22.6
//: Average Growth Rates

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

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2021), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_li11, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 21/06/2021).

Definition: the depth of risk of poverty is measured as the difference between the median equivalised total net disposable income of people living below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold and the at-risk-of-poverty threshold itself, expressed as a percentage of the at-risk-of-poverty threshold. The indicator gives an indication of the severity or depth of poverty in a country. The larger the indicator, the lower the income of people at risk of poverty. It is an instrument to quantify the nature of inequality within a society.

The at-risk-of-poverty threshold is set at 60% of the national median equivalised disposable income of all people living in the same country. That at-risk-of-poverty threshold is recalculated for each year. Net disposable income is equal to the sum of the gross incomes of all household members less taxes, social security contributions and transfers between households (EC, 2016). In order to obtain the net equivalised disposable income, the net disposable income is divided by an equivalence factor (the so-called ‘modified OECD’ equivalence scale). An adult has a factor of 1, each additional person from the age of 14 a factor of 0.5 and each additional person under the age of 14 a factor of 0.3. The net equivalised disposable income makes it possible to compare the standard of living of people, taking into account the economies of scale resulting from a joint household and the composition of the household. It is assumed that the standard of living of persons with a net equivalised disposable income below 60% of the national median in the total population is insufficient to meet the minimum acceptable living patterns in Belgium.

The data used here on the people at risk of poverty are based on the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions survey (EU-SILC), with income data that relate to the year preceding the survey year. 2004 is the first year for which European harmonised data have been collected in order to calculate the indicator. Statistics Belgium 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 a survey, a margin of uncertainty must be taken into account. This margin of uncertainty increases as the indicator is calculated on smaller sub-populations. The confidence intervals are available on request from Statistics Belgium.

Data for 2019 and 2020 are difficult to compare with each other and are not comparable with data up to 2018. From 2019 onwards, the survey methodology has been thoroughly reviewed for better accuracy. In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted data collection. Detailed information on these questions is available on the Statistics Belgium website (Statbel, 2021).

Goal: the depth of risk of poverty must be reduced.

The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs adopted by the UN in 2015 include target 10.3: “Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including through eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and actions in this regard.

In addition to target 10.3, the SDGs also include the following targets: “By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average" (target 10.1); “By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status” (target 10.2); “Adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality” (target 10.4) and “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” (target 1.2).

In view of the basic principle that the standard of living of people at risk of poverty is insufficient to meet the minimum acceptable living patterns in Belgium, the Federal Long-Term Strategic Vision has set the following ambition for 2050, which goes beyond the SDGs or the Europe 2020 strategy: “Everyone will have an income from work, from property or from social protection systems and will have access to services of general interest. In this way, everyone will be able to meet all the needs for a decent life during all phases of his life” (objective 2, Belgian Official Gazette, 08/10/2013).

International comparison: the depth of risk of poverty is higher in the EU27 than in Belgium. Between 2010 and 2018 it fluctuated around 24.4%. In 2019 it was also 24.4%. When Member States are divided into three groups, Belgium is part of the group that performs best in 2019.

UN indicator: the selected indicator does not correspond to any monitoring indicator for the SDGs but is related to target 10.3. Indeed, the indicator depth of poverty gives an indication of the severity of the poverty situation. The higher the indicator, the more difficult it is to ensure equal opportunities for people at risk of poverty and to eliminate inequalities influenced by their income situation.

Sources

More information is available in French and Dutch.