The Malta Independent 23 May 2019, Thursday

More people at risk of poverty, but fewer people severely poor

Wednesday, 1 August 2018, 09:14 Last update: about 11 months ago

A report published by the National Statistics Office titled ‘The European Statistics on Income and Living Conditions’ shows that 19.2% of the population is at risk of poverty or social exclusion (AROPE) in 2017, a decrease of 0.9% on the previous year’s figures, but that the at risk of poverty rate (ARP) had marginally increased by 0.3% up to 16.8%.

The AROPE rate corresponds to the proportion of persons who fall within at least one of three categories, these categories being those whose equivalised income falls below the at risk of poverty threshold, those who live in severely materially deprived private households and persons aged 0 to 59 who live in private households with very low work intensity.

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The ARP rate meanwhile relates to just one of these categories, encapsulating only those whose equivalised income falls below the at risk threshold.

The 19.2% of the population that falls under the AROPE rates is equivalent to 82,652 people, the report states.  Furthermore, the same report points out that the 0.9% total decrease in this figure had come solely because the risk of poverty or social exclusion rate had decreased in men.  In fact whilst in 2016 the rate of men at risk of poverty or social exclusion stood at 20%, but in 2017 it had decreased to 18.3%.  The rate of women at risk of poverty or social exclusion however remained exactly the same between 2016 and 2017; at 20.1%.

The report, which used a sample of almost 4,500 households, found that the household type that remains most at risk of poverty or social exclusion was that made up of a single parent and one or more dependent children, with a rate of 50.2%.

In terms of geography, the southern harbour area was the area with the highest AROPE rate standing at 26.9% followed by the northern area at 20.1%. The lowest AROPE rate was recorded in the western area and stood at 15%.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat showed satisfaction at the total AROPE figure, saying in a tweet that this was the 19.2% figure was the lowest rate that Malta had ever seen, describing the decrease as “prosperity with a purpose”.

There was meanwhile a marginal increase in the at risk of poverty (ARP) rate of 0.3%, taking it up to 16.8%, which is the equivalent of 72,143 people.

Notably, there was a 0.8% increase in this rate when taking only the over 65 years of age bracket. Also worth mentioning is that whilst the ARP rate for men had decreased by 0.2%, it had increased for women by 0.9%.

The trends noted in terms of household types and geography were very similar to those noted in the AROPE rate; with households made up of a single parent and one or more dependent children and the southern harbour area respectively both being the most susceptible to the risk of poverty.

The study does not take into account just monetary income, but it also employs material deprivation indicators to reach its conclusions.  To do this, the researchers pose various questions to respondents, asking for instance whether the family could afford an annual week-long family holiday, whether they could afford unexpected financial expenses, whether they could afford a car, whether they could afford a meal with meat, chicken or vegetarian equivalents every second day and whether they were in arrears on expenses such as rental payments.

In this sense, the report found that there was a decrease in households which materially deprived, and severely materially deprived.  Indeed, materially deprived households (defined as those who could not afford three out of the nine expenses mentioned) had decreased by 2.3% from 10.3% to 8%; whilst severely materially deprived households (defined as those who could not afford four out of the nine expenses mentioned) had decreased by 1.1% from 4.4% to 3.3%.

The European Statistics on Income and Living Conditions report is an annual undertaking compiled by the National Statistics Office.

 

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