Almost a quarter of Estonians live at risk of poverty


According to Statistics Estonia, the country’s official statistics agency, 22.8% of the Estonian population lived at risk of poverty and 1.4% lived in absolute poverty in 2021; compared to 2020, the share of people at risk of poverty has increased by 2.2% and the share of people living in absolute poverty has decreased by 0.8%.

Anet Müürsoo, head of the Department of Demographic and Social Statistics at Statistics Estonia, said the at-risk-of-poverty rate reflects income inequality in a country.

“Almost 301,100 people lived at risk of poverty in 2021, almost 30,300 more than in 2020. Their monthly income, taking into account household composition, was less than €763,” Müürsoo said in a statement. communicated.

The at-risk-of-poverty rate was the highest in years and increased mainly among the elderly, while it decreased among families with children.

“Among people aged 65 and over living alone, 82.8% were at risk of poverty, up 4.7% from the previous year. This is largely due to the amount of the average old-age pension, which is below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold. We also find that nearly one in three lone parents live at risk of poverty. Their incomes have not increased as fast as, for example, those of two-parent families,” Müürsoo added.

Nearly 18,000 people live in absolute poverty

The at-risk-of-poverty rate was highest in Ida-Viru (38.3%), Hiiu (31.6%) and Võru (31.2%) counties. It was lowest in the counties of Harju (18.1%), Järva (18.9%) and Tartu (20.9%). The at-risk-of-poverty rate increased the most in Viljandi (7.7%), Ida-Viru (6.9%) and Hiiu (6.6%) counties. The largest decline was recorded in the counties of Järva (3.8%), Valga (2.9%) and Pärnu (1.4%).

Absolute poverty indicates the share of the population that is unable to meet its basic needs.

“In 2021, almost 18,000 people lived in absolute poverty, 10,700 less than the previous year. The monthly income of people living in absolute poverty, taking into account household composition, was less than €234,” Müürsoo noted.

The absolute poverty rate was highest among people aged under 65 living alone (5.5%) and single parents (4.2%). By age group, absolute poverty was highest among 18-24 year olds (2.6%).

Nearly 100,000 people live in destitution

In 2022, the share of people living in destitution, that is, people who cannot afford various items commonly available in society, was slightly higher than the previous year – 7% of the population Estonian population, i.e. 92,100 people.

Insecurity affects people aged 65 and over the most (10.6%), while the least deprived are those aged 18-24 (3.9%). In one year, deprivation increased the most among children and people aged 65 and over.

The estimates are based on data from the Estonian Social Survey 2022. The survey collects data on annual income, therefore the 2022 survey asked respondents about income in 2021. Annual income is needed to calculate poverty and inequality indicators. The social survey is conducted in all countries of the European Union according to a harmonized methodology.

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