Belgian poverty indicators in 2019 per region and province
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.
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. As a result of these changes, the results from 2019 onwards are not comparable with those of previous years.
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.
Data collection method and sample size
CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interview).
60% (N= ± 6000 households).
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).
- 2013: break in the 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