Until recently, the latest data on incomes were preliminary figures over 2004. Figures published in this article refer to the most recent income data, i.e. definitive figures over 2004 en preliminary figures over 2005. The definitive figures over 2004 show a slightly different picture of the distribution of welfare than previously outlined on the basis of preliminary figures.
On the basis of preliminary data, purchasing power showed only a minor increase of 0.3 percent in 2004 relative to 2003.
On the basis of definitive figures over 2004, the data require revision: it appears that the improvement in 2004 was more substantial, i.e. 0.7 percent.
Differences between preliminary and definitive figures are caused by the fact that data on incomes of self-employed were estimated as no hard data were available at the time. After sufficient monitoring data were available, definitive figures could be calculated.
Results based on preliminary and definitive figures also show discrepancies with respect to the amount and proportion of people living on low incomes in 2004. On the basis of preliminary figures, 9.4 percent lived below the low-income limit in 2004. It was concluded that there was an increase in the proportion of people living below the low-income limit relative to 2003 (8.8 percent). The definitive figures on 2004, however, show that 8.6 percent lived below the low-income limit.
The proportion of people living on the edge of poverty did not rise in 2004. Since 2003, the percentage of persons living on low incomes has hardly changed. In the period 2003-2005, the risk of poverty has largely remained stable.