Estonian pensioners are the most at-risk of poverty in the entire European Union, according to recent Eurostat data. The gender gap in terms of pensioner poverty risk was also among the highest in the EU.
Whereas in the EU as a whole, an average of 15 percent of people over 65 years old were at risk of poverty, for Estonia this figure was nearly four times that at 54 percent.
The other two Baltic States, Latvia and Lithuania, were just behind, and the only other countries with a figure above 40 percent.
Rates across the EU and other European countries were not sharply divided between the Central and Eastern European (CEE) area as against western Europe; Slovakia enjoyed the lowest proportion at 6 percent, whereas Ireland and Germany, as well as the U.K. - now not in the EU - all had levels around the 20 percent mark.
Eurostat defined a person at risk of poverty as one whose equivalised disposable income is less than 60 percent of the national median equivalised disposable income after social transfers have been taken into account.
While the risk of poverty across the EU for pensioners has increased slightly in recent years – 2013's EU average stood at 13 percent at risk of poverty – it is still slightly lower than the risk for the working-age population, which stands at 17 percent.
Pensions between genders most equal, at-risk level difference among largest in EU
Paradoxcially, Estonia had the lowest pensions gender gap in the EU, according to the Eurostat report, in other words the difference between average pensions received by men and women was smallest in the union.
Whereas the EU sees men pensioners receiving on average 30 percent more in pensions then women pensioners, for Estonia this figure was just one percent.
Nonetheless the gender poverty gap in Estonia – in other words the comparison of risk of poverty between men and women pensioners – was again one of the highest in the EU. While on average in the EU; women pensioners were 3-4 percentage points more at risk of poverty than their men counterparts, in Estonia the difference was 17 percentage points, exceeded only by Lithuania (18 percentage points).
The full survey is here.
Editor: Andrew Whyte