Poverty fell among households with three or more children but grew among single parents

Posted on 8 November 2021, 8:00

According to Statistics Estonia, 2.2% of the population of Estonia lived in absolute poverty and 20.6% lived at risk of poverty in 2020. Compared to 2019, both the share of people who lived at risk of poverty and who lived in absolute poverty fell by 0.1 percentage points.

According to Anet Müürsoo, leading analyst at Statistics Estonia, absolute poverty indicates the share of the population who are not able to meet their basic needs. “Last year, approximately 28,700 people lived in absolute poverty, which is somewhat less than in the previous year, but considering that their monthly income, taking into account household composition, was less than 220 euros, there is definitely room for improvement,” said Müürsoo.

The at-risk-of-poverty rate reflects income inequality in a country. In 2020, approximately 270,800 persons lived at risk of poverty, as their equivalised monthly income was less than 631 euros. “Essentially, a person living at risk of poverty may earn a good income, but the inequality arises from the fact that other people have an even higher income. A slight fall could be noticed in the at-risk-of-poverty rate, but the change is minimal and the indicator is rather at the same level as in the prior years,” explained Müürsoo.

Compared to 2019, the at at-risk-of-poverty and absolute poverty rates declined among couples with three or more children and among young people (18–24-year-olds), while it rose among single parents. “The at-risk-of-poverty rate was highest for 65-year-old and older persons living alone. The greatest change occurred for single parents: year on year, the share of single parents living at risk of poverty grew by a tenth. The absolute poverty rate continued to be highest among the unemployed,” added Müürsoo.

At-risk-of-poverty rate and absolute poverty rate by type of household (%), 2019–2020

The at-risk-of-poverty rate was highest in Ida-Viru (31.4%), Võru (30%) and Valga (29.3%) counties. It was lowest in Harju (16.5%), Tartu (18.8%) and Lääne-Viru (19.5%) counties. The absolute poverty rate was highest in Southern Estonia (2.5%) and lowest in Western Estonia (1.4%).

At-risk-of-poverty rate by county (%), 2019–2020

In 2021, the share of people living in deprivation, i.e. people who cannot afford various items commonly available in the society, was slightly smaller than in prior years, amounting to 4.9% of the Estonian population. Deprivation affects persons aged 65 and over the most (7.8%) and 18–24-year-olds the least (2.5%). In a year, deprivation decreased the most for children and youth.

The estimations are based on the data of the 2021 Estonian Social Survey. Its main representative of public interest is the Ministry of Social Affairs. 6,467 households participated in the survey. The survey collects data about yearly income, which is why the 2021 survey asked respondents about the income in 2020. The yearly income is necessary for calculating the indicators of poverty and inequality. The social survey (called EU-SILC) is conducted in all European Union countries on the basis of a harmonised methodology.

At-risk-of-poverty rate is the share of persons with an equivalised yearly disposable income lower than the at-risk-of poverty threshold. The at-risk-of-poverty threshold is 60% of the median equivalised yearly disposable income of household members. Equivalised disposable income is the total household income divided by the sum of equivalence scales of all household members.

Deprivation rate is the share of persons who cannot afford at least five of the 13 items: 1) to pay rent or utility bills, 2) to keep their home adequately warm, 3) to face unexpected expenses, 4) to eat meat, fish or a protein equivalent every second day, 5) a one-week holiday away from home, 6) a car, 7) to replace furniture when worn out or damaged, 8) to replace worn-out clothes with new ones, 9) to have at least two pairs of outdoor shoes in good condition that are necessary in our climate, 10) to spend a small amount of money each week on oneself, 11) to participate regularly in a leisure activity that costs money, 12) to get together with friends or family for a drink or meal at least once a month, or 13) to have an internet connection at home for personal use when needed.

More information about the methodology used to measure deprivation can be found here.

More detailed data have been published in the statistical database.


For further information:

Hanna-Liisa Ruul
Communications Partner
Marketing and Dissemination Department

Statistics Estonia
Tel +372 53 411 977

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