Population below the poverty threshold

  • 1 in 10 Flemish citizens at risk of poverty

    Just over 1 in 10 inhabitants of the Flemish Region lived in 2018 in a household with a household income below the Belgian poverty threshold. This is equivalent to about 680,000 people. It is assumed that households with an income below the poverty threshold are at risk of poverty. 


    The proportion of people below the poverty threshold has remained quite stable in recent years by fluctuating between 10% and 11% of the population since 2004. The fluctuations across the years are not statistically significant. 

  • Higher poverty risk among the unemployed, single-parent families and tenants

    Differences in the poverty risk are relatively limited when broken down by gender and age. The at-risk-of-poverty rate was slightly higher among elderly people in 2018, but the gap with the other age groups has declined sharply since 2006. 


    When broken down by household type, the at-risk-of-poverty rate is highest among the members of single-parent families (28%). Single-person households (16%), elderly couples (15%) and large families (15%) also have a higher than average poverty risk. In comparison with 2006, the poverty risk for couples without children has dropped. Single-parent families, couples with 1 child and large families experienced an increase in the same period.  


    In terms of activity status, the highest poverty risk is found among the unemployed (37%) and among inactive citizens (excluding pensioners) (23%). While the risk of poverty among pensioners decreased between 2006 and 2018, the risk of poverty among the two groups mentioned above increased. The largest increase occurred among the unemployed. 


    Finally, in 2018, the poverty risk was much higher among tenants (26%) than among owners (7%). The poverty risk among tenants has increased since 2006. 

  • Poverty risk in Flemish Region lower than EU average

    The poverty risk in 2018 was lower in the Flemish Region (10%) than in the other Belgian regions. In the Walloon Region, the risk stood at 22% of the population and in the Brussels-Capital Region at 33%. The poverty risk in Belgium was 16%. 


    The proportion of people below the poverty threshold in the countries of the European Union (EU) in 2018 was 17% of the population. The poverty risk was lowest in the Czech Republic (10%). Slovenia, Hungary and Poland have the same proportion of the population below the poverty threshold as West and North European countries, while the standard of living in the former group of countries is still lower. This is due to the fact that this is a relative measure of poverty, calculated on the basis of the distribution of income in each country. 


Statistics Flanders: Poverty or social exclusion (EU2020 indicator) (pdf) 

Statbel: EU-SILC survey 

Eurostat: Database 


Poverty threshold: the poverty threshold is equal to 60% of the national median disposable household income after social transfers (social security and welfare benefits). This poverty threshold is adjusted to the composition and size of the household. For a single person, the Belgian poverty threshold in 2018 was 1,187 euros per month; for a family with 2 adults and 2 children it was 2,493 euros per month. 

Household income: the disposable household income consists of all income of the household members derived from economic activity, assets, property ownership and from social transfers (social security and welfare benefits). 

Publication date

25 June 2019

More numbers

Previous revisions