Low income usually not permanent

20/12/2005 14:00

One in five persons had a low income at any time during the period 1995-2003. For two-thirds of these people this situation was not permanent. Nearly one quarter of benefit recipients were in the low income bracket most or all of the time in the period 1995-2003. The low-income limit for 2003 was set at 10.2 thousand euro.

Over 1.8 million people had low incomes at least once in the period 1995-2003

In the category of persons aged 15 years and older, which includes 9.1 million people, one in five were on low incomes at any time in the period 1995-2003. For two-thirds of people in the low income bracket this situation did not last longer than four years; 17 percent alternated periods of low income with periods of higher income, 13 percent were on low incomes most of the time and 6 percent (corresponding to 100 thousand individuals) were in the low income bracket during the entire period 1995-2003.

Low income earners by length of the period, 1995-2003

Self-employed usually not long in low income situation

Self-employed have no fixed incomes. They were slightly more often on low incomes than people receiving regular wages. For the vast majority of self-employed on low incomes, this situation did not last long: seven of every ten self-employed were back on their feet again after one year. Almost 22 percent of pensioners were on low incomes at least for the duration of one year and some 7 percent were in the low income bracket most or all of the time.

Benefit recipients in the low income bracket more often and for longer periods

Half of benefit recipients were on low incomes at any time in the period 1995-2003, almost 9 percent had low incomes during the entire period and 14 percent most of the time.

Low income earners by main source of income, 1995-2003

More favourable income position for couples

Five in every six couples were never in the low income bracket in the period 1995-2003. Couples on low incomes often moved to higher income brackets after some time. Low incomes were far more common among one-parent families and singles. On average, the period they lived on low incomes was also longer.

Low income earners by type of household, 1995-2003

On average 13 percent under low-income limit

People permanently on low incomes in the period 1995-2003 had an average long-range income 13 percent under the low-income limit. Those who were on low incomes more often than not had an average long-range income 4 percent under the low-income limit.

Hendrika Lautenbach and Clemens Siermann