The threat of becoming poor continues to hang over Belgians, according to the latest Statbel figures, which show that in 2018, just over 16% of the country’s inhabitants risked financial poverty.
This is the highest level since 2004, when such measurements were begun, according to the national statistical office.
The poverty risk is calculated on the basis of available income. Anyone living in a household with a monthly available income of less than 1,187 euros (for a single person) is considered at risk. Last year, 16.4% of the Belgian population belonged to this category, up from 15.9% in 2017.
Unsurprisingly, the poverty risk is higher among homeless persons (49.4%) than among workers (5.2%). Other high-risk categories include single-parent families and renters. People with at best a lower-secondary diploma are four times more likely to become poor than those with higher diplomas (27.8% as against 6.4%).
According to Statbel, 12.1% of the population were in households with low labour intensity in 2018, down from 13.5% in 2017. The proportion of Belgians suffering from severe material deprivation also decreased slightly, from 5.1% in 2017 to 4.9% in 2018.
Persons facing at least one of the high-risk situations are considered at risk of poverty or social exclusion, according to the European Poverty Indicator, developed within the framework of the “Europe 2020 Strategy. In 2018, they comprised 19.8% of the population, as against 20.3% in 2017.