28.6% of Belgian children from single-parent families are materially deprived
12.8% of Belgian children are materially deprived. For example, they do not have any solid shoes, age-specific toys, they do not get sufficient healthy food or they cannot go on holidays. This is what Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, reports based on the child-specific material deprivation indicator from the 2021 SILC survey on income and living conditions.
The situation is the most precarious for children living in a renter household (33.6%) or with only one parent present (28.6%). For children with low-skilled parents (36.4%) and those with at least one parent not born in the EU (32.9%), material deprivation also poses a greater risk. Regional differences are also very pronounced: material deprivation concerns 21% of children in Brussels, 17.3% in Wallonia and 8.5% in Flanders.
The main difficulties are going on holiday one week a year, buying new clothes and participating in leisure activities on a regular basis, which is financially unfeasible for 17.5%, 8.9% and 5.6% of Belgian children respectively. A child is considered materially deprived when financial resources are insufficient for at least three of the following items:
Percentage of the population in a situation of severely material and social deprivation (SMSD)
|Severe material and social deprivation - Belgium||2019||2020||2021|
|Per age group|
|Per household type|
|1 adult with child(ren)||17.2%||19.3%||16.9%|
|2 adults with child(ren)||5.0%||5.2%||5.6%|
|2 adults without children, at least one 64+||2.0%||2.1%||2.5%|
|2 adults without children, < 65||4.2%||4.9%||3.4%|
Percentage of the population in a situation of material and social deprivation (MSD)
|Material and social deprivation - Belgium||2019||2020||2021|
|Per age group|
|Per household type|
|1 adult with child(ren)||29.7%||28.6%||24.6%|
|2 adults with child(ren)||8.6%||9.2%||9.2%|
|2 adults without children, at least one 64+||4.9%||4.4%||4.4%|
|2 adults without children, < 65||8.6%||7.5%||5.5%|
Purpose and brief description
EU-SILC (European Union - Statistics on Income and Living Conditions) is a survey on income and living conditions and an important tool to map poverty and social exclusion at both Belgian and European level.
The objective of this survey is to establish a global framework for the production of 'Community' statistical data on income and living conditions (EU-SILC), including both coherent cross-sectional and longitudinal data on income and poverty (level, composition,...) at national and European level.
Data collection method and sample size
CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interview) - Due to COVID-19 situation, temporary switch to CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interview).
± 60% (N= ± 7000 households).
First quarter after survey year
Risk of poverty or social exclusion (AROPE)
The risk of poverty or social exclusion, abbreviated AROPE, refers to the situation in which individuals are faced with at least one of the 3 following poverty risks: monetary poverty, severe material and social deprivation or living in a household with very low work intensity. The AROPE rate, the share of the total population at risk of poverty or social exclusion, is the main indicator for monitoring the ‘EU 2030’ target on poverty and social exclusion.
Poverty risk = Monetary poverty risk (AROP)
The at-risk-of-poverty rate (AROP) is the percentage of people with an equivalised disposable income (after social transfer) below the poverty threshold.
The indicator does not measure wealth or poverty, but low income in comparison to other residents in that country. This does not necessarily imply a low standard of living.
Poverty risk before social transfers: Percentage of people whose equivalised disposable income after deduction of all social transfers falls below the poverty threshold.
Poverty risk before social transfers, excluding pensions: Percentage of people whose equivalised disposable income after deduction of social transfers, excluding pensions, falls below the poverty threshold.
Material and social deprivation rate (MSD) and severe material and social deprivation (SMSD)
The material and social deprivation rate refers to the inability to afford some goods/services considered by most people to be desirable or even necessary to lead an adequate life. The indicator distinguishes between individuals who cannot afford a certain good/service/activity, and those who do not have this good/service/activity for another reason, e.g. because they do not want or do not need it.
The EU-SILC survey asks households about their financial (in)ability to:
- Pay the bills as scheduled
- Take every year one week’s holiday away from home
- Eat a meal with meat, chicken, fish or vegetarian equivalent every second day
- Face unexpected financial expenses
- Afford a car
- Keep the home warm
- Replace damaged or worn-out furniture
In addition, people are asked about their individual financial (in)ability to:
- Replace worn out or old-fashioned clothes by new ones
- Have two pairs of shoes in good condition
- Afford an internet connection at home
- Get together with friends/family (relatives) for a drink/meal at least once a month
- Participate regularly in a leisure activity
- Spend a small amount of money each week on yourself
The material and social deprivation rate (MSD) is defined as the enforced inability to pay for at least five of the above-mentioned items.
The severe material and social deprivation rate (SMSD) is defined as the enforced inability to pay for at least seven of the above-mentioned items.
Low work intensity (LWI)
The indicator persons living in households with very low work intensity is defined as the number of persons living in a household where the members of working age worked a working time less than 20% of their total work-time potential during the previous 12 months.
The work intensity of a household is the ratio of the total number of months that all working-age household members have worked during the income reference year and the total number of months the same household members theoretically could have worked in the same period.
An employee of working age is a person aged 18-59, excluding students aged 18-24. Households composed only of children, of students aged less than 25 and/or people aged 60 or more are completely excluded from the indicator calculation.
Level of education
The level of education is measured using a detailed questionnaire, and the people are then divided into three groups.
Low-skilled people are people who list lower secondary education as their highest level of education. Medium-skilled people are people who obtained a diploma of higher secondary education but not of higher education. High-skilled people obtained a diploma of higher education.
Break in the series in 2013 for unemployed persons (until 2012 early retired persons were considered as unemployed persons based on the nature of their income).
Since 2013 this category of individuals has been classified in the same category as (anticipatively) retired persons or persons in a position of non-activity before retirement. This classification better reflects the distribution advocated by Eurostat, in which early retired persons should only be considered as unemployed persons if they intend to re-enter the labour market.
The rise in the poverty rate among the unemployed population in 2013 is therefore due to a technical cause and does not reflect any fundamental change in the actual situation.
SILC 2016 to 2018:figures revised on 12/03/2020
SILC 2021: From SILC 2021, real property withholding tax will be included in the disposable income.
EU-SILC 2004 to 2020 was implemented under a framework regulation, mandatory for all EU Member States:REGULATION (EC) No 1177/2003 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 16 June 2003 concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC).
From SILC 2021 onwards there is the REGULATION (EU) 2019/1700 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL. This framework regulation for integrated European Social Statistics (IESS) and the underlying implementing regulations for EU-SILC constitute the new legal framework. The development of the statistical infrastructure under IESS is supported by European grants.