This Working Paper presents, on the basis of information available until July 2016, a projection at unchanged policy until 2030 of the population at risk of poverty or social exclusion in Belgium, as defined in the framework of the Europe 2020 Strategy. This population should amount to 2.232 million people in 2018, or 418 000 more than the Europe 2020 target. By 2030, its share should shrink to 16.1%, still 5.6 percentage points higher than the goal resulting from the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The population at risk of poverty or social exclusion lies at the core of the Europe 2020 Strategy. Within the framework of this Strategy, Belgium has committed itself to reducing this population by 380 000 people between 2008 and 2018. In 2008, 2.194 million people belonged to this target group. In addition, Belgium has also committed itself to at least halve the share of the population living in poverty by 2030, basing its measurement on the common national multidimensional definition of poverty. This commitment arises from the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted in 2015. In Belgium, 2.336 million people or 21.1% of the total population were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2015. Assuming that the UN goal will be evaluated in 2030 using data relating to the previous year, the share of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion in Belgium should not exceed 10.6% in 2029. Broadly, this equals a halving of the proportion of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion measured in 2015.
People are at risk of poverty or social exclusion when they face at least one of the following problems: living on an income below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold, living in households with low work intensity and experiencing severe material deprivation. The population at risk of poverty or social exclusion thus consists of various sub-populations, each of which are confronted with one or more aspects of the multidimensional poverty issue.
In Belgium, very little forecasting data on the population at risk of poverty or social exclusion is available. For this reason, this report presents a projection of this population to 2030. From a methodological point of view, it goes a step further than a trend description and extrapolation based on historical data. In fact, the projection integrates various data which influence the evolution of the target population within a coherent framework. These data include a number of projections of the no-policy-change baseline scenario of the 2016 Annual Report of the Study Committee on Ageing (SCA) on the budgetary sustainability and adequacy of pensions. Note that other policies lead to other projections of the development in the population at risk of poverty or social exclusion.
Our projection results show a slight decline in the population at risk of poverty or social exclusion from 2.282 million people in 2016 to 2.232 million people in 2018, i.e. 418 000 people more than the target laid down in the Europe 2020 Strategy. Therefore, the Belgian target under this Strategy will not be reached. This also applies to the goal set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the UN. Indeed, the results point to a drop from 20.2% in 2016 to 16.1% in 2029, whereas Belgium should strive towards a, broad, maximum rate of 10.6% by 2029. Both the decrease in the number of pensioners living on an income below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold during the period 2016-2029 and the drop in the long term of the unemployment rate, as resulting from the SCA’s baseline scenario, can explain these results.
This projection can be further updated and its main aim is to contribute to the monitoring process for the Belgian poverty reduction objectives. The NRP/NSR Social Indicator working group chaired by the Federal Public Service (FPS) Social Security and the Interfederal Statistical Institute are responsible for this process, within the frameworks of the Europe 2020 Strategy and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development respectively.