More households at poverty risk in 2008

  • One-parent families and people with a non-western background most at risk
  • Low incomes have relatively high recurring expenses and have to get into debt more often
  • Relatively many children under 18 face risk of poverty

These are some of the main conclusions drawn in the new publication by Statistics Netherlands on poverty and exclusion:  Lage inkomens, kans op armoede en uitsluiting 2009. It describes recent developments in poverty and constraints in social and financial aspects.
In 2008 there were 6.9 million households of which 545 thousand (8.0 percent) lived below the low-income threshold. This is more than in 2007 when 7.6 percent had to live on a low income. Also the number of households living below the budget-based threshold increased from 447 thousand (6.6 percent) in 2007 to 460 thousand (6.7 percent) in 2008.

The long-term poverty risk decreased, however. The share of households on low incomes is nearly half that of the mid 1990s.
The share of households at risk of poverty for at least four consecutive years stayed the same in 2008, namely 2.8 percent according to the low-income threshold.

One-parent families with children under 18 ran the highest poverty risk in 2008. Nearly 70 thousand (29 percent) had an income below the low-income threshold. They had also been getting by on a low income for a long period most of all (19 thousand; 10 percent).
Also non-western households and singles under 65 ran a far greater risk. The number of non-western households on a low income reached 142 thousand (25 percent) and 257 thousand (18 percent) singles under 65 had to get by on a low income.

Recurring expenses, such as rent, water, energy, insurance and consumer taxes place a greater burden on the household budget of households at risk of poverty than of households on higher incomes. The households in the lowest income brackets also indicted that they had to get into debt more often than households on higher incomes. With a capital of a thousand euro on average on 1 January 2009 the position of households at risk of poverty was very different from the average 53 thousand euro capital of all households.

In 2008 people over the age of 18 living in a low-income household took part in social life to a lesser extent than people on high incomes. Their social network was more limited, they were less active in clubs, volunteered less and did less sports. They also faced arrears and often lacked the means to provide for the basics, such as a decently heated home, having a hot meal with meat or fish every other day, or taking a week’s holiday once a year, and paying for unexpected necessities.

Despite a marked decrease since the turn of the century, there were relatively many children in 2008 who grew up in a household at risk of poverty. Over 330 thousand children under 18 (one in ten) lived in a household that had to get by on an income below the low-income threshold.

According to the figures on 2007 people on an income below the low-income threshold live 5 years shorter than people on a higher income. The difference in the number of years in which people experience their health as good is as much as 14 years.