17 October– International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, publishes today the poverty figures for 2019 from the survey on income and living conditions (EU-SILC). Figures for the Belgian regions and provinces are also published for the first time.
These are the main conclusions for the total population in Belgium:
- In Belgium, 14.8 % of the population was considered at risk of monetary poverty (AROP) in 2019. These persons live in households where the total disposable income is below €1,230 per month for a single person.
- 12.4 % of the population lives in a household with low work intensity (LWI).
- 4.4 % of the Belgian population was facing severe material deprivation (SMD) in 2019.
- People who are confronted with at least one of the above situations are considered at risk of poverty or social exclusion according to the European poverty indicator of the Europe 2020 strategy (AROPE). For 2019, this is 19.5 % of the population.
- Besides, 19.3 % of the Belgian population indicates that they find it difficult to make ends meet at the end of the month.
Risk of poverty in the Belgian regions and provinces
Behind these national figures there are large regional differences. For each key indicators, the situation is the most precarious in Brussels, and the least precarious in Flanders. Wallonia is in between. For the main poverty indicators, Statbel publishes for the first time results at provincial level. There are also clear differences. In all the provinces, the situation is the most precarious in the Brussels-Capital Region. It is striking that the results for the various provinces in Flanders are quite similar, but that the results for the provinces in Wallonia are very different.
|Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest||31.4%||24.1%||10.6%||37.8%|
The monetary poverty indicator (AROP) does not only show regional differences. Populations also differ substantially in their risk of poverty. The most vulnerable persons are those living in densely populated areas (22.7 %), low-skilled people (25.3 %), unemployed people (47.9 %), tenants (32.3 %) and single parent households (34.6 %). The least vulnerable are Belgians living in medium populated areas (10.7 %), high-skilled (5.8 %), working (4.8 %) or owner of their dwelling (8.2 %). People living in a household consisting of two adults under 65 are also at a lower risk (7 %).
Necessary medical and dental care not available to everyone
Furthermore, the SILC survey 2019 shows that 2.8 % of the population over 16 who really needed a medical examination or treatment did not receive it. For 77.7% of them, this is because they could not afford it because it was too expensive or not covered by the health insurance system. We notice the same trend regarding dental examination and treatments: 6.8 % of Belgians over 16 could not address this need. For 65.9 % of them, this had to do with financial reasons. The inhabitants of Brussels, the unemployed and tenants are also particularly vulnerable with regard to these indicators.
Problematic housing situation
In addition, the SILC survey shows that 8.3 % of Belgians live in a household where more than 40 % of disposable income is spent on housing costs such as rent or interest on the loan and energy costs. Once again, this national figure hides large regional disparities, with Brussels (19.5 %) and Flanders (6 %) as the extremes, and Wallonia close to the national rate (9 %). Moreover, 8.1 % of Belgians live in a dwelling that does not have enough space for the number of people living there. In Wallonia (5.4 %) and Flanders (5.7 %), however, the figures are clearly better than in Brussels (29.8 %).
In order to meet European requirements, the SILC survey was thoroughly reformed in 2019. This reform makes it possible to calculate the results more accurately. The questionnaire could also be shortened so that the burden on the participating households is substantially reduced. As a result of these changes, the results from 2019 onwards are not comparable with those of previous years.
 These provincial indicators are calculated in a different way than the other indicators, namely via the small area estimation technique.