Risk of poverty or social exclusion

Our mind suffers from our financial situation

Our mind suffers from our financial situation

17 October 2019: International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, publishes today the results of the ad hoc module on well-being from the survey on income and living conditions (EU-SILC). The main findings are:

  • Belgians report an average life satisfaction score of 7.6 out of 10 in 2018.
  • The average score for the satisfaction with financial situation is 7.0.
  • That same average score of 7.0 also applies to satisfaction with the time one can spend on leisure.
  • The satisfaction with job gets an average score of 7.5.
  • The satisfaction with personal relationships with friends, acquaintances, colleagues, etc. gets an average score of 7.9 out of 10.
  • These results are fully in line with those from the previous measurement in 2013. The most recent figures at European level date from 2013 and show that Belgium and our neighbouring countries are among the top ranking countries, just behind Scandinavian countries.

However, the results of the EU-SILC survey show large differences in well-being depending on the financial situation of Belgians. Belgians who are not at risk of monetary poverty feel clearly better about themselves than those whose financial situation is precarious.

13.1 % of Belgians not at risk of monetary poverty report a (very) high degree of social exclusion, compared to 23.6 % for those who are at risk of poverty. However, more than 80 % of the latter can rely on a social network of friends, acquaintances or neighbours to ask for material or non-material help (compared to more than 90 % for the first group). Furthermore, 14.1 % of the persons at risk of poverty feel most of the time or always lonely, compared to 5.1 % for Belgians who are not at risk of monetary poverty.

The emotional state of mind differs between Belgians depending on whether they are or not at risk of poverty. Indeed, 20.7 % of people at risk of poverty feel most of the time or always nervous, compared to 14.1 % for Belgians not at risk of poverty. The percentages of persons feeling down in the dumps are lower, but the gap remains: 11.7 % of people in a precarious financial situation feel most of the time or always down in the dumps, compared to 4.7 % for Belgians whose financial situation is better. The same goes for feeling calm and peaceful (51.5 % of people at risk of poverty answered “most of the time” or “always”, compared to 65.0 % for people not at risk of poverty) and feeling downhearted or depressed (14.4 % of people at risk of poverty answered “most of the time” or “always” compared to 5.7 % for those not at risk of poverty).

When they were asked if they were happy, 80.2 % of Belgians not at risk of poverty answered that it was most of the time or always the case. For those whose financial situation is precarious, the figure is only 55.8 %.

Purpose and brief description

"EU-SILC" (European Union - Statistics on Income and Living Conditions) is a European survey on income and living conditions and an important tool to map poverty and social exclusion at Belgian and European level.

In Belgium, the EU-SILC survey is organised by Statbel. Every year, about 6,000 households (or 11,000 people) are surveyed and followed up for a maximum of four consecutive years. In the SILC survey, social exclusion is regarded as the result of several factors such as income, employment, health and education level.


Private households

Data collection method and sample size

CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interview).


60% (N= ± 6000 households).



Timing publication

Not specified (due to a major reform of the survey) – final results available in October after the survey year.


Calculation of the monetary poverty risk (AROP)

The poverty threshold is set at 60 % of the median disposable income at individual level. It is calculated as follows: 60 % of 22,784 euros per year equals to a threshold of 13,670 euros per year or 1,139 euros per month for a single person. For households, this threshold is not simply multiplied by the number of household members. Considering that household members share costs and expenditures, a factor of 0.5 is applied to a second adult in a household in the calculation of the poverty threshold, and a factor of only 0.3 is applied to children (<14 years). The poverty threshold for a household consisting of two adults and two children is therefore obtained by multiplying the threshold of single people by a factor of 2.1 [(€13,670 *2.1)/12 = €2,392 per month]. This factor of 2.1 is calculated by assigning a weight of 1 to the head of the household, of 0.5 to the second adult of the household and of 0.3 to each child.

Households with low work intensity (LWI)

These are the households where adults (aged 18 to 59, excluding students) have worked on average less than one fifth of the time during the reference year.

Material deprivation (SMD): details of the indicator

People considered as "severely materially deprived" are confronted with at least four of the nine following situations: they cannot afford to pay rent or utility bills, to keep their home adequately warm, to face unexpected expenses, to eat meat, fish or a protein equivalent every second day, to go on a one-week holiday away from home, to have a car, a washing machine, a colour TV or a telephone.

European poverty indicator: AROPE (At Risk of Poverty or Social Exclusion)

This indicator is derived from the three indicators mentioned above (AROP, LWI, SMD). If one or more of the conditions are met, i.e. if the household in which the person lives is characterised by low income and/or low work intensity and/or severe material deprivation, that person is considered at risk of poverty and/or social exclusion (multidimensional poverty).

More definitions...


  • Break in the 2013 series for the unemployed
  • 2016 to 2018: figures revised on 12/03/2020
  • 2019: time series break due to a major reform of the survey

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