Statistics Estonia reported that last year 22.8 percent of the Estonian population was living at risk of poverty, which is the highest figure in years, and 1.4 percent was living in absolute poverty. At-risk-of-poverty rate is highest among the elderly and single-parent families.
At-risk-of-poverty rate shows income inequality in a country. Being at risk of poverty means that a person's total income available for spending or saving, after tax and other deductions, is below the 60 percent of the national average. So this indicator measures the level of income in comparison to other residents in the same country.
"About 301,100 people lived at risk of poverty in 2021, which is nearly 30,300 persons more than in 2020. Their monthly income, taking into account household composition, was less than €763," Anet Müürsoo, the head of population and social statistics department of Statistics Estonia, said.
In 2021, the at-risk-of-poverty rate in Estonia was the highest it had been in years, and it grew primarily among the elderly while declining among households with children.
"82.8 percent of the population aged 65 and older who lived alone were at risk of poverty, a 4.7 percent increase from the previous year. This is partly driven by the fact that the average pension is below the poverty line. In addition, nearly one-third of single parents are at risk of poverty. Their incomes have not grown as fast as, for instance, those of two-parent families," Müürsoo explained.
The at-risk-of-poverty rates were highest in Ida-Viru (38.3), Hiiu (31.6), and Võru (31.2 percent) counties. It was lowest in Harju (18.1), Järva (18.9), and Tartu (20.9 percent) counties. The at-risk-of-poverty rate increased the most in Viljandi (7.7), Ida-Viru (6.9), and Hiiu (6.6 percent) counties. The biggest decline was recorded in Järva (3.8), Valga (2.9), and Pärnu (1.4 percent) counties.
Absolute poverty indicates the share of the population who are not able to meet their basic needs.
"In 2021, nearly 18,000 people lived in absolute poverty – 10,700 fewer than the year before. The monthly income of people living in absolute poverty, taking into account household composition, was less than €234 euros," Müürsoo said.
The absolute poverty rate was highest among people aged under 65 living alone (5.5) and single parents (4.2 percent). By age group, absolute poverty was highest among 18–24-year-olds (2.6 percent).
In 2022, the share of people living in deprivation, i.e. people who cannot afford the common benefits (such as, to pay rent or utility bills, face unexpected expenses, afford one-week holiday away from home, a car, and so on), was slightly larger than in the previous year – 7 percent of Estonia's population, or 92,100 people.
Deprivation affects persons aged 65 and over the most (10.6), while the least deprived are 18–24-year-olds (3.9 percent).
Estimates are based on data from the 2022 Estonian Social Survey, which covered 5735 households. The survey collects data on annual income, so in 2022 the poll asked about income in 2021.
The social survey, also called EU-SILC, is conducted in all European Union countries on the basis of a harmonized methodology.
Editor: Kristina Kersa