Accordingly, during the same period, the share of people in low-income households remained relatively stable – and even fell a little – both in terms of relative and absolute measures of low-income. In 2020, 11 percent of the population (excluding students) belonged to a low-income household, compared to 11.2 in 2017 and 10.8 in 2014.

The aim of this report is to thus to shed light on the economic situation and living conditions of various low-income groups, like single parents, immigrants and recipients of various social security benefits.

The share of people in low-income households is especially big among single persons receiving the minimum level of old-age pension or disability benefit and recipients of supplementary benefit, social assistance, and qualification benefits respectively. However, those experiencing the most rapid growth in the proportion of low-income in recent years are people with reduced ability to work and recipients of supplementary benefit and disability benefit respectively. At the same time, the prevalence of low income has declined among groups such as immigrants and Norwegian-born with immigrant parents from Africa, Asia etc., single persons under 35 years, single persons receiving the minimum level of old-age pension and recipients of social assistance.

Some people only experience a short period of low income, while low income is a more persistent situation for others. In the three-year period 2017-2020, 10.1 per cent of all persons belonged to a household with persistent low income. The proportion with persistent low income was stable around 8 per cent for many years up until the period 2010-2012. In the following years, the share with persistent low income has increased annually.

A majority of the various low-income groups report of poor housing conditions, compared to the population in general. Many are also unable to pay an unforeseen expense and find the housing expenses burdensome, and report more frequently of economic problems. Compared to the population in general, material and social deprivation is more common among people in low-income groups. In several of the low-income groups, there is also significantly lower occupational activity than in the total population, which contributes greatly to their economic situation. Poor living conditions are most prevalent among social assistance recipients and immigrants from Africa, Asia etc. However, there are also a relatively big share who report of poor living conditions among single parents, low-income couples with children and people receiving disability benefits or work assessment allowance (AAP).

In an international perspective, the proportion of people in low-income households in Norway is small. However, compared to other Nordic countries like Denmark and Finland, the share of children with low income has risen substantially in recent years. This is also the case in Sweden. Still, the share of people in households in material deprivation or at risk of poverty or social exclusion, is relatively small in the Nordic countries compared to other EU- and OECD-countries.