17.5% of the Estonian population or one in six lived in relative poverty in 2011, says Statistisc Estonia. The percentage would be even higher if the income of the population had not been increasing and unemployment decreasing, said the agency.
Without social transfers such as state benefits and pensions, at-risk-of-poverty rate is as high as 40.1%. A person is considered to be at-risk-of-poverty if his or her monthly equalised disposable income was below 299 euros (280 euros in 2010).
The difference in income between the poorest and richest fifth of the population was 5.4-fold.
Compared to the previous year, it can be noticed that the%age of younger people who are living in relative poverty is decreasing, and that of persons aged 65 and older – increasing. In 2011, 21% of persons aged 18–24 and 17% of persons aged 65 and more lived in relative poverty (in 2010 – 22% and 13%, respectively). The important reason is the decreasing unemployment rate of younger age groups.
By type of household, the at-risk-of-poverty rate has increased the most in households of a single person aged 65 and over (by 9.8%) and decreased in households of a couple with three or more children (by 4.2%).
By regions, for the residents in Northeastern Estonia the at-risk-of-poverty rate was nearly three times higher than for the residents in Northern Estonia. Similarly, the poverty risk for people living in rural settlements is significantly higher than for people living in urban settlements.
The level of education significantly affects the remaining in risk of poverty. Of persons with basic or lower education every third was in the poorest and only every fifteenth was in the richest income quintile. At the same time one third of people with higher education belonged to the richest fifth. Therefore, the at-risk-of-poverty rate of persons with higher education (8.7%) was more than three times smaller than of persons with basic or lower education (26.6%). Higher level of education is an important presumption for the prevention of poverty.
The estimations are based on the Social Survey, which has been conducted by Statistics Estonia since 2004. In 2012, more than 5,400 households participated in the survey.