The Malta Independent 22 March 2019, Friday

People at risk of poverty in Malta on the increase

Thursday, 19 October 2017, 10:01 Last update: about 2 years ago

Noel Grima

People at risk of poverty or social exclusion in Malta have risen from 81,000 in 2008 to 85,000 in 2016, Eurostat said on Monday.

This amounts to 20.1% of the total population in both cases.

People at risk of poverty after social transfers also rose from 15.3% to 16.5% in the same time period.

Persons severely materially deprived also rose from 4.3% to 4.4% of the total population.

But persons aged 0-59 living in households with very low work intensity declined from 8.6% to 7.3% in the same timeframe.

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The at-risk-of-poverty threshold in Malta rose from €10.009 in 2008 to €13,572 in 2016 while worked out as regards a single adult it rose from €6,005 in 2008 to €8,143 in 2016 and for a family with two adults and two children under 14 years of age, it rose from €12,611 in 2008 to €17,101 in 2016.

In 2016, 117.5 million people, or 23.4% of the population, in the European Union  were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. This means that they were in at least one of the following three conditions: at-risk-of-poverty after social transfers (income poverty), severely materially deprived or living in households with very low work intensity.

After three consecutive increases between 2009 and 2012 to reach almost 25%, the proportion of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU has since continuously decreased to 23.4% last year, only 0.1 percentage points above its 2009 low-point. The reduction of the number of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU is one of the key targets of the Europe 2020 strategy.

In 2016, more than a third of the population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion in three Member States: Bulgaria (40.4%), Romania (38.8%) and Greece (35.6%). At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest shares of persons being at risk of poverty or social exclusion were recorded in the Czech Republic (13.3%), Finland (16.6%), Denmark (16.7%) and the Netherlands (16.8%).

Among Member States for which data are available, the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate has grown from 2008 in ten Member States, with the highest increases being recorded in Greece (from 28.1% in 2008 to 35.6% in 2016, or +7.5 percentage points), Cyprus (+4.4 pp), Spain (+4.1 pp) and Sweden (+3.4 pp).

In contrast, the largest decrease was observed in Poland (from 30.5% to 21.9%, or -8.6 pp), followed by Latvia (-5.7 pp) and Romania (-5.4 pp).

At EU level, the proportion of the total population being at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2016 (23.4%) decreased by 0.3 percentage points from 2008.

Looking at each of the three elements contributing to being at risk of poverty or social exclusion, 17.2% of the EU population in 2016 were at risk of poverty after social transfers, meaning that their disposable income was below their national at-risk-of-poverty threshold.

This proportion of persons at risk of income poverty in the EU has slightly decreased compared with 2015 (17.3%) but is still higher than in 2008 (16.5%).

As the thresholds reflect actual income distribution in the countries, they vary greatly between Member States and also over time. Across the EU Member States, 1 in 4 persons was at risk of income poverty in Romania (25.3%) and about 1 in 5 in Bulgaria (22.9%), Spain (22.3%), Lithuania (21.9%), Latvia (21.8%), Estonia (21.7%), Greece (21.2%) and Italy (19.9% in 2015).

In contrast, the lowest rates were observed in the Czech Republic (9.7%), Finland (11.6%), Denmark (11.9%), Slovakia (12.7%) and the Netherlands (12.8%).

 Compared with 2008, the proportion of persons at risk of income poverty has increased in twenty-one Member States for which data are available, and has decreased in four.

In the EU in 2016, 7.5% of the population were severely materially deprived, meaning that they had living conditions constrained by a lack of resources such as not being able to afford to pay their bills, keep their home adequately warm, or take a one week holiday away from home. This proportion of persons severely materially deprived in the EU has decreased compared with both 2015 (8.1%) and 2008 (8.5%).

The share of those severely materially deprived in 2016 varied significantly among Member States, ranging from more than 20% of the total population in Bulgaria (31.9%), Romania (23.8%) and Greece (22.4%), to less than 4% in Sweden (0.8%), Luxembourg (1.6%), Finland (2.2%), Denmark and the Netherlands (both 2.6%), Austria (3.0%) and Germany (3.7%).

Compared with 2008, the proportion of persons severely materially deprived has increased in ten Member States for which data are available, and decreased in fifteen.

Looking at low work intensity, 10.4% of the population aged 0-59 in the EU lived in households where the adults worked less than 20% of their total work potential during the past year. It is the second year in a row since 2008 that this proportion decreased in the EU.

Ireland (19.2% in 2015), Greece (17.2%), Spain (14.9%), Belgium (14.6%) and Croatia (13.6%) had the highest proportions of those living in very low work intensity households, while Estonia (5.8%), Poland (6.4%) and Slovakia (6.5%) had the lowest.

Compared with 2008, the share of persons aged 0-59 living in households with very low work intensity has increased in a majority of Member States (eighteen), while it decreased in seven.


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