Estonian incomes grew last year but so did the gap between the haves and the have-nots. The share of people living in relative poverty also increased, Statistics Estonia announced today.
The agency said that last year 18.7 percent of the population lived in relative poverty - up from 17.5 percent in 2011. In addition, 7.3 percent were in absolute poverty in 2012.
The relative poverty line was at 329 euros in net monthly earnings (technically, household income divided by the sum of the consumption coefficients of the household members). In 2011, the relative poverty line was 299 euros.
The absolute poverty line was 196 euros, up from 186 euros in 2011.
In 2012, the highest-earning 20 percent of the population made 5.5 times more than the lowest-earning 20 percent.
One in two unemployed people were in relative poverty, and one in three were in absolute poverty.
Six percent of wage earners were in relative poverty last year despite having a permanent position, and 1 percent of wage earners with permanent positions were in absolute poverty.
The average net monthly income of Estonian households was 654 euros a month, 60 euros more than 2011.
The figure per household member was 457 euros.
City dwellers made 668 euros a month in net earnings; rural inhabitants 622 euros. Parity has increased between city and countryside; four years ago, the gap was 89 euros.
Among other facts that came to light was that 53 percent of the population in northern Estonia fell into the top quintile of income, while 56 percent of those in the northeast were in the lowest 20 percent.
Income in the rest of the country was much more evenly balanced.
The relative poverty rate is lower among men but males lead in absolute poverty. The difference was a few percentage points in each case.
Ethnic Estonians tended to have higher incomes than non-Estonians. In 2012, Estonians' relative poverty rate was six percentage points lower; the absolute poverty rate, two percentage points lower.
"To sum up, 2012 was a year of rising incomes, which led to an increase in inequality of incomes and a growth in the percentage of people living in relative poverty," said Statistics Estonia analyst Tiiu-Liisa Laes. But absolute poverty decreased somewhat.