Low-income families more vulnerable to poverty-related problems


Most Norwegians are financially equipped to meet their everyday financial obligations, but some groups struggle to make ends meet. Couples with children and a low income, and single parents are more vulnerable to poverty-related problems.

The Survey on living conditions 2018 maps poverty-related problems in terms of financial difficulties and material and social deprivation in Norway. Most Norwegians have liquid assets, and can afford unexpected required expenses, and few face economic difficulties with housing costs. Most people in Norway can afford basic material items such as furniture, clothing or the internet. The majority are also able to afford social participation such as getting together with friends and family for a drink or meal at least once a month, or going on holiday. Nevertheless, some groups are more vulnerable to poverty-related problems than the general population, such as people receiving social assistance, single parents and low-income households.

Two in ten low-income families struggle to make ends meet

Couples with children are less likely to experience poverty-related problems compared to the general population. Families with a low income and single parents, on the other hand, report more economic obstacles in their everyday life than the general population. Two in ten low-income families find it quite or very difficult to make ends meet, and more than four in ten are not able to afford unexpected required expenses. In comparison, this applies to 6 and 19 per cent of the population aged 16 years and over respectively. This is the same level or higher for couples with children. Low-income families also struggle more to pay for their housing costs compared to the population as a whole and couples with children. 

Figure 1. Financial difficulties, by family cycle. 2018

All Couple with child 0-6 years Couple with child 7-19 years Single parent Couples with children and low income (quintile 1)
Belong to a household with difficulty or great difficulty making ends meet 6 6 4 16 19
Belong to a household not able to afford an unexpected expense 19 17 14 42 46

Two in ten single parents are not able to afford a holiday

Low-income families and single parents are more materially and socially deprived due to financial difficulties than couples with children. Most Norwegians can afford to keep their home adequately heated and ‘everyone’ can afford an internet connection. However, not everyone can afford all the basic material goods. Two out of ten couples with children and a low income cannot afford to replace worn out furniture and one in four lack at least one material good. This applies to 7 and 10 per cent of all couples with young children (0-6 years) respectively. This is the same level and lower than for the population as a whole. Among couples with older children (7-19 years), the figure is even lower, at 3 and 6 per cent respectively.

Single parents and families with a low income state to a greater extent that they cannot participate in social activities due to a tight financial situation, compared to the population as a whole and couples with children. Compared to the general population, three times as many low-income families cannot afford to participate regularly in leisure activities. When viewed in relation to all families with children, this figure increases to four times as many. Families with low incomes and single parents are also less likely than families in general to be able to afford a week's holiday outside the home in a year. Twenty per cent of single parents and 15 per cent of low-income families cannot afford a week's holiday. This also applies to 3-4 per cent of families in general.

Poverty-related problems - as part of European Statistics

Eurostat annually publishes indicators of income, social inclusion and living conditions for the 28 EU countries, as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. The main source of the indicators is data collected in connection with EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC). The Poverty-related problems statistics were published for the first time by Statistics Norway in 2018 with data from 2017. As of 2018, Statistics Norway will publish official statistics on selected indicators from EU-SILC in the statistics on Poverty-related problems. Several of the indicators Statistics Norway publishes in the Poverty-related problems statistics are also published by Eurostat. Here you can find figures for the 28 EU countries, as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. Statistics Norway provides microdata to Eurostat. Therefore, there may be slight deviations between the figures that Eurostat publishes and the figures published by Statistics Norway.