Risk of poverty (i50)

In 2021 (income year 2020), the proportion of the population in Belgium at risk of poverty equaled to 12.7%. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must decrease. Between 2004 and 2019 the trend is unfavourable (assessment of November 2021; without taking into account 2020, because the Covid-19 pandemic impacted data collection).

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Risk of poverty - Belgium and international comparison

percentage of population

 2004200520102013201520182019202020212021//20192018//20042018//20132020//2010
Belgium14.314.814.615.114.916.414.814.112.7-7.41.01.7-0.3
EU27----16.516.817.416.816.516.6------0.00.1
//: Average Growth Rates

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

Statbel; Eurostat (2022), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), sdg_01_20 , https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 09/06/2022) and Statbel (2022), Direct communication 20/09/2022.

At-risk-of-poverty threshold - Belgium

for a single person, according to EU-SILC surveys (income data from year prior to survey year)

 thousands of euros per year

 2004200520102013201520182019202020212021//20192018//20042018//2013
Belgium9.49.911.712.913.014.214.815.415.52.53.02.0
//: Average Growth Rates

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_li01, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 09/06/2022) and Statbel (2022), Direct communication 20/09/2022.

Risk of poverty before and after social transfers (pensions excluded) - Belgium

percentage of population

 2004200520102013201520182019202020212021//20192018//20042018//2013
after transfers14.314.814.615.114.916.414.814.112.7-7.41.01.7
before transfers27.828.426.626.326.725.425.425.627.23.5-0.6-0.7
//: 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_li10b, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 09/06/2022) and Statbel (2022), Direct communication 30/09/2022.

Risk of poverty by region - Belgium

percentage of population

 2011201520182019202020212021//20192018//2011
Brussels-Capital Region33.729.732.831.427.825.4-10.1-0.4
Flemish Region9.810.310.49.89.37.8-10.80.9
Walloon Region19.218.321.918.318.217.3-2.81.9
//: 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

until 2020: 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 (2021), direct communication, 21/06/2021, as of 2021: Statbel (2022), Direct communication 20/09/2022.

Risk of poverty by sex - Belgium

percentage of population

 2004200520102013201520182019202020212021//20192018//20042018//2013
females15.115.515.215.515.617.115.014.413.0-6.90.92.0
males13.414.113.914.614.115.614.613.812.3-8.21.11.3
//: Average Growth Rates

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

Eurostat (2022), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_li07, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 09/06/2022) and Statbel (2022), Direct communication 20/09/2022.

Risk of poverty by age - Belgium

percentage of population

 2004200520102013201520182019202020212021//20192018//20042018//2013
<1815.918.118.317.218.020.118.915.615.1-10.61.73.2
18-6412.112.012.113.413.715.113.112.211.1-7.91.62.4
>6420.921.419.418.415.216.615.718.714.8-2.9-1.6-2.0
//: Average Growth Rates

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

Eurostat (2022), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_li07, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 09/06/2022) and Statbel (2022), Direct communication 20/09/2022.

Risk of poverty by education - Belgium

percentage of population aged 18 years and over

 2004200520102013201520182019202020212021//20192018//20042018//2013
at most lower secondary22.321.723.025.924.928.525.827.423.8-4.01.81.9
upper secondary11.811.510.711.713.614.513.113.211.7-5.51.54.4
tertiary5.94.75.57.26.76.55.85.95.80.00.7-2.0
//: 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_li02, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 09/06/2022) and Statbel (2022), Direct communication 20/09/2022.

Risk of poverty by household type - Belgium

percentage of population

 2004200520102013201520182019202020212021//20192018//20042018//2013
single person21.222.018.824.521.223.820.223.221.02.00.8-0.6
single-parent family32.933.235.334.235.739.934.629.325.5-14.21.43.1
2 adults14.512.013.212.510.412.411.111.19.4-8.0-1.1-0.2
2 adults, 1 child9.59.09.210.69.512.212.312.38.9-14.91.82.9
2 adults, 2 children8.39.710.67.89.39.97.46.65.3-15.41.34.9
2 adults, 3+ children16.119.616.519.921.124.024.119.018.9-11.42.93.8
//: 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_li07, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 09/06/2022) and Statbel (2022), Direct communication 20/09/2022.

Risk of poverty by activity status - Belgium

percentage of population aged 18 years and over

 2004200520102013201520182019202020212021//20192018//20042018//2013
employed4.03.94.54.44.65.14.84.23.8-11.01.83.0
unemployed27.930.730.446.240.750.448.150.238.0-11.14.31.8
retired17.919.116.115.112.414.113.416.213.3-0.4-1.7-1.4
other inactive27.425.625.830.731.536.330.429.720.6-17.72.03.4
//: 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_li07, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 15/06/2022) and Statbel (2022), Direct communication 20/09/2022.

Definition: the share of the population at risk of poverty is the ratio of the number of persons with a net equivalised disposable income below 60% of the national median, to the total population. 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. People at risk of poverty are part of the target group of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion, as defined in the framework of the Europe 2020 strategy.

The data used here on the people at risk of poverty are based on the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) survey, with income data that relate to the year preceding the survey year. This means, for example, for the survey year 2020 that in the calculation of this indicator the incomes of 2019 were used, which were not affected by the Covid-19 crisis (Statbel, 2021a).

Statbel 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 in order 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 a survey, a margin of uncertainty has to 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 Statbel.

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 of '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 and the number of persons at risk of poverty must be reduced.

The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs adopted by the UN in 2015 include target 10.2: “By 2030, enable and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all regardless of age, gender, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion, economic or other status”.

In addition to target 10.2, the SDGs contain the following targets: “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” (target 10.3); “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) and “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).

People at risk of poverty are part of the target group for which the Europe 2020 strategy (European Commission, 2010) has set a reduction target, the so-called people at risk of poverty or social exclusion. In the framework of the Europe 2030 strategy, a new goal was adopted for the last target group: a reduction in the number of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU by at least 15 million by 2030, including 5 million children, was proposed. The population at risk of poverty is a part of that target group (European Council, 2021a, 2021b).

Here the starting point is 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: between 2010 and 2016, the risk of poverty in the EU27 increased from 16.5% to 17.5%. Thereafter, the indicator dropped to 16.8% in 2018 and beyond to 16.6% in 2020. The average for Belgium in that period is 1.7 percentage points lower than that of the EU27. When Member States are divided into three groups, Belgium is part of the group with average performances in 2020 and performs better than the European average. In that year, the Czech Republic ranked first with 9.5% and Bulgaria last with 23.9%.

UN indicator: the selected indicator corresponds to indicator 10.2.1 - Proportion of people living below 50 per cent of median income, by age, sex and persons with disabilities. The UN uses 50% as the income threshold, while the indicator selected here assumes 60%, as in the EU definition.

Sources

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