Nearly 20% of Belgians live in poverty, study finds

Nearly 20% of Belgians live in poverty, study finds
Credit: Belga / Siska Gremmelprez

More than two million Belgians, or 18.7% of the population, live in households that are either poor, financially insecure, or in some way materially or socially deprived.

According to a report published on Thursday by Statbel, Belgium's official statistics office, 2,144,000 Belgians fall into the formal economic category of being "at risk of poverty or social exclusion" (AROPE). These are people who either suffer severe material and social deprivation (SMSD), live in households with low work intensity (LWI), or are at risk of monetary poverty (AROP).

The study also noted that 13.2% of Belgium's population — or 1,517,000 people — fall into the latter category due to living in households with a total disposable income lower than the official poverty line, which is currently set at €1,366 per month for a single person and €2,868 for a family with two adults and two children.

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Furthermore, 11.5% of the population (1,020,000) were found to live in households experiencing low work intensity, while 5.8% of the Belgian population (663,000) are currently enduring severe material and social deprivation. The study also noted that 216,000 Belgians, or roughly 2% of the country's population, fall under all three (LWI, SMSD, and AROP) categories.

Finally, the report found that having a university education significantly reduces your chances of being financially, materially, or socially insecure: only 8.7% of Belgians with a higher degree are at risk of poverty or social exclusion (AROPE), compared to 36.8% who lack any tertiary diploma.

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