Every fifth person in Estonia lives in relative poverty

While Estonia has made respectable progress over the years, a quarter of a million people are still relatively poor.

According to Statistics Estonia, 21.1% of the Estonian population – nearly 276,000 people – lived in relative poverty in 2016. The number dropped slightly, however – by 0.6% compared with the previous year.

Had it not been for the state benefits and pensions, almost 40% (39.2%) of the population would have lived in relative poverty.

In Estonia, a person is considered to live in relative poverty if their monthly disposable income is below €468 (as of 2016).

Compared with 2015, the relative poverty of children, young and middle-aged people decreased, but it increased in the case of the elderly. A whopping 41.8% of people aged 65 and over lived in relative poverty.

The statistics clearly proves that a higher level of education is an important prerequisite for the prevention of poverty. The relative poverty rate of people with higher education was 13%, while among those with basic education or lower the rate was 36.7%.


The cover image (Vaksali, Tartu) is illustrative (image by Tõnu Runnel).

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About the author: Silver Tambur

Silver Tambur is the cofounder and Editor-in-Chief of Estonian World. He has previously studied journalism at the University of Tartu, and politics and society at the Birkbeck College, University of London. Silver has been the editor at the Estonian Public Broadcasting’s news service in English, as well as contributing for the Business Sense magazine in the UK, Deutsche Welle and Radio New Zealand. You can also follow him on Twitter and like his page on Facebook. You can write to Silver at silver@estonianworld.com.