Benefits hide poverty numbers -

  • 2010-06-30
  • From wire reports

TALLINN - The growth in wages and salaries slowed in 2008, but increased pensions and government-paid benefits helped in maintaining residents’ incomes, shows data from Statistics Estonia, reports news agency LETA. Hence, the relative poverty in Estonia remained on the same level as in 2007.

In 2008, 19.7 percent of Estonia’s population lived in relative poverty - this is approximately as many as in 2007, when the rate was 19.5 percent. Social welfare spending (state benefits and pensions) helped to maintain incomes. If benefits and pensions were excluded from the incomes, the relative poverty rate in 2008 was 37.5 percent, while in 2007 it was 36.3 percent.

In 2008, a person who was considered to be at-risk-of poverty earned a monthly equalized disposable income of less than 4,858 kroons (311 euros). The at-risk-of-poverty threshold grew by 518 kroons in the year-on-year comparison.
The difference, in 2008, in income between the poorest and the wealthiest fifth of the population remained five-fold. The elderly were still the predominant group that lives in poverty. One in three persons aged 65 and older, and 14 percent of persons aged 25-49, lived in relative poverty. In comparison to the previous year, the number of younger people living in relative poverty increased, while the number of persons aged 65 and older living in poverty decreased.

By household type, the at-risk-of-poverty rate has increased the most in a year - by 7 percentage points - in households with three or more children and has decreased by 8 percentage points in households with a single person aged 65 or more.
The at-risk-of-poverty is related to the education level. In 2008, the at-risk-of-poverty rate of persons with basic or lower education was 34 percent - more than four times higher than among persons with higher education. In recent years, the trend has shown that relative poverty rate of the less educated persons is increasing, while that among persons with higher education is decreasing.