Population below the poverty threshold

  • 1 in 10 inhabitants of Flemish Region at risk of poverty

    In 2019, slightly less than 1 in 10 inhabitants of the Flemish Region lived in a household with a household income below the Belgian poverty threshold. This is equivalent to about 640,000 people. It is assumed that households with an income below the poverty threshold are at risk of poverty.

    The EU-SILC survey on which these figures are based has recently been radically revised. Therefore, caution is advised when making comparisons with the results of previous years. However, it can be said that the proportion of people below the poverty threshold has remained fairly stable in recent years and has fluctuated between 10% and 11% of the population since 2004.

  • 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 in 2019 slightly higher among elderly people and children than among other age groups.

    When broken down by household type, the at-risk-of-poverty rate in 2019 was highest among the members of single-parent families (26%). Single-person households (14%) and large families (14%) also have a higher than average poverty risk.

    In terms of activity status, the highest poverty risk is found among the unemployed (37%) and among inactive citizens (excluding pensioners) (19%). The poverty risk was also much higher among tenants (22%) than among owners (6%).

    The risk of poverty decreases as the level of education rises: for the higher educated it was 4% in 2019, and 19% for the lower educated.

    Finally, the poverty risk also varies by country of birth. People born in Belgium have the least poverty risk (7%), people born outside the EU have the highest poverty risk (30%).

  • Poverty risk highest in province of Antwerp, lowest in province Flemish Brabant

    The proportion of people below the poverty threshold in 2019 in the province of Antwerp (12%) was slightly higher than the Flemish average (10%). In Flemish Brabant, the share was slightly lower (7%). In the other provinces there is little or no difference with the Flemish average.

  • Poverty risk in Flemish Region lower than EU average

    The poverty risk in 2019 was lower in the Flemish Region (10%) than in the other Belgian regions. In the Walloon Region, the risk stood at 18% of the population and in the Brussels-Capital Region at 31%. The poverty risk in Belgium was 15%.

    The proportion of people below the poverty threshold in the 28 countries of the European Union (EU28) in 2019 was 17% of the population. The poverty risk was lowest in the Czech Republic (10%). Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary had a similar proportion of the population below the poverty threshold as West and North European countries, while the standard of living in the first 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.


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

22 December 2020

Next update

October 2021

More numbers

Previous revisions