Number of people living in absolute poverty rose by two and a half times
Text Mark Taylor Photo Emil Kalibradov / Unsplash
According to data released by Statistics Estonia, 22.5 per cent of Estonia’s population lived at risk of poverty and 3.5 per cent lived in absolute poverty in 2022.
“Close to 303,900 people lived at risk of poverty in 2022, which is nearly 3,000 persons more than in 2021. Their net monthly income, taking into account household composition, was less than 756 euros,” said Epp Remmelg, a leading analyst at Statistics Estonia.
Over the years, the at-risk-of-poverty rate has been highest among the elderly living alone. ”In 2022, however, the at-risk-of-poverty rate increased the most among families with children, particularly those with three or more children. Up by 4.6 percentage points from 2021,” the analyst explained. Adding that of people aged 65 and over living alone, 79.1 per cent were at risk of poverty.
The at-risk-of-poverty rate was highest in Läänemaa (34.3 per cent), Viljandimaa (34.3 per cent), and Lääne-Virumaa (33.0%), and lowest in Harjumaa (17.6 per cent), Järvamaa (19.1 per cent), and Tartumaa (20.5 per cent).
The increase in absolute poverty was caused by price rises
Absolute poverty indicates the share of the population who are not able to meet their basic needs. ”In 2022, nearly 48,000 people lived in absolute poverty, whereas 18,000 people did so in 2021, which means the number has risen by two and a half times. Their net monthly income, taking into account household composition, was less than 303 euros,” noted Remmelg.
“The rise in the number of people living in absolute poverty is due to the large price increases in 2022, which raised the subsistence minimum more than ever before: by 30 per cent, from 234 to 303 euros. However, incomes, including different types of benefits, did not increase to the same extent in 2022,” the analyst explained, adding that benefits have a significant impact on how people on lower incomes cope financially.
The absolute poverty rate rose the most among the inactive, and slightly less among the employed. In 2022, more than one in five unemployed people lived in absolute poverty. For the first time in a long time, retired persons also fell into absolute poverty, as the national pension of 275 euros in 2022 was lower than the subsistence minimum.
“By age group, the absolute poverty rate in 2022 increased the most among 18-24-year-olds. This means that one in ten young people lived in absolute poverty last year. More than one in ten lone parent households also lived in absolute poverty,” Remmelg added.