Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, studied the intergenerational transmission of poverty within the EU-SILC survey. The survey respondents aged 25 to 59 were asked what their living conditions were when they were around 14.
In Belgium, it appears that 3% of the population (aged 25 to 59) was living, at the age of 14, in a household facing great financial difficulties. This proportion amounts to 9.1% in the Brussels-Capital Region, 3.8% in the Walloon Region and 1.2% in the Flemish Region. 3.9% of Belgians did not have basic school supplies for financial reasons: 8.4% in the Brussels-Capital Region, 4.5% in the Walloon Region and 2.5% in the Flemish Region.
At the age of 14, eating meat or a vegetarian equivalent daily was financially impossible for 4.7% of the population. At regional level, this represents 14.2% in Brussels, 5.1% in Wallonia and 2.4% in Flanders.
Moreover, 24.1% of the respondents were financially unable to go on holiday for one week when they were 14. This finding applies to 34.9% of the inhabitants of Brussels, 30% of Walloon people and 18.6% of Flemish people.
The survey brings to light the effect of deprivations during teenage years on the financial situation in adulthood. Among the people who were living in a household facing great difficulties at the age of 14, 30.4% lived under the monetary poverty threshold in 2019. On the contrary, the current poverty rate only amounts to 7.7% for those who were living in a household in a very good financial health.
Another example: 35.5% of the respondents who declared not having had basic school supplies for financial reasons at the age of 14 are currently at risk of poverty compared to 11.2% if they have had them.
Level of education
Moreover, in addition to the deprivations, the parents’ status in society has a significant influence on the future life. 31.2% of the people whose father had a low level of education finished higher studies compared to 56.8% of those whose father had a medium education level and 79.4% of those whose father had a higher degree. The link with the level of education of the mother is the same and even slightly more pronounced: when the mother is highly qualified, this is also the case for 81% of the respondents.
|Highest level of education attained by the parents when respondent was around 14 years old|
|Current level of education of the respondent||Low level of education of father||Low level of education of mother||Medium level of education of father||Medium level of education of mother||High level of education of father||High level of education of mother|
|Low level of education||26.1%||25.8%||7.8%||6.8%||3.1%||3.0%|
|Medium level of education||42.6%||42.9%||35.4%||35.3%||17.6%||16.0%|
|High level of education||31.2%||31.3%||56.8%||57.9%||79.4%||81.0%|
Growing up in a family where parents had a low level of education has a negative impact on living conditions at adult age. Therefore, the current risk of poverty rate is doubled for a person coming from a household where the parents were less qualified than others.
|Highest level of education attained by the parents when respondent was around 14 years old||Risk of monetary poverty (AROP)|
|Father||Low level of education||15.8%|
|Medium level of education||8.4%|
|High level of education||7.3%|
|Mother||Low level of education||16.1%|
|Medium level of education||8.0%|
|High level of education||6.4%|
The parents’ citizenship also proves to be a discriminating factor. Among the people whose father or mother had not a European citizenship, respectively 40.6% and 39.2% are at risk of poverty while the rate is around 7% when the parent is Belgian.
|Citizenship of the parents when respondent was around 14 years old||Risk of monetary poverty (AROP)|
|Another EU-28 country||12.4%|
|Another EU-28 country||12.7%|
Tables of detailed results can be downloaded here.
 In this press release, we always talk exclusively of the population aged 25 to 59.
 In the SILC survey, the poverty threshold is set at 60% of the median equivalised income for the whole population. The percentage of people with an equivalised income below this threshold is the total poverty rate. In SILC 2019, the annual median available income at national level is set at 24,608 euros. 60% of it is 14,765 euros or 1,230 euros per month. A total equivalised income below this threshold reflects a risk of poverty.