Poverty: increase in severely materially deprived households in COVID year

Over 25,600 individuals living in Maltese households are now believed to be severely materially deprived

Around 100,712, or 19.9% of the Maltese population living in private households are considered to be either at-risk-of-poverty (ARP), severely materially and socially deprived, or living in households with very low work intensity.

The ARP threshold is set at 60% of national equivalised income – which is calculated as the average household’s income averaged over total number of dependents, in the case of 2020 set at €9,744.

In 2020, 16.9% of people living in private households were at-risk-of-poverty – around 85,369 persons. The largest share were elderly persons aged 65 and over (26.3% of cohort).

2019: Poverty increased last year with largest share found in Northern Harbour region

The material and social deprivation indicator captures the social dimension of poverty: apart from items such as the ability to replace worn-out furniture and worn-out clothes, this statistic measures social pursuits, such as leisure activities undertaken regularly and meeting with family and friends. Severely materially and socially deprived persons are considered as such if their household cannot afford at least seven items out of the 13 material and social deprivation items.

In 2020, 25,644 persons, equivalent to 5.1% of the population living in private households, were estimated to fall in this category, an increase over 2019: 24,333 (5%).

Materially and socially deprived persons (9.4%) are observed as those who cannot afford at least five deprivation items – a decrease of 0.5 percentage points from 2019.

Across the 13 material and social deprivation items, the most prevalent deprivation item was inability to pay for a week’s annual holiday away from home, accounting for 32.9 per cent of the population in private households.

The third aspect of the ARP or social exclusion indicator concerns very low-work-intensity households, that is adults (18-64) who worked one-fifth of their work potential in the year preceding the survey. In 2020, the very low-work-intensity rate was calculated at 4.2 per cent of the private-household population.