Poverty-related problems, survey on living conditions
Updated: 16 August 2022
Next update: 3 May 2023
About the statistics
The statistics cover poverty issues for various groups in the Norwegian population, such as financial difficulties and social and material deprivation. The data is based on the Survey on living conditions EU-SILC.
The indicators are mostly based on information reported in the interview. In cases where the information is based on administrative registers this is stated explicitly.
Material deprivation cover the populations ability to afford basic material goods:
Cannot afford to keep the home adequately warm: Lives in a household that cannot afford to keep the dwelling adequately warm. Before 2021 this question was not asked to households that found it easy or relatively easy to makes ends meet. This group was categorised as being able to keep the home adequately warm. Starting in 2021 the question was given to all respondents.
Cannot afford meat or fish every other day: Lives in a household that cannot afford to eat meat, fish or varied and healthy vegetarian dishes every second day. Before 2021 this question was not asked to households that found it easy or relatively easy to makes ends meet. This group was categorised as being able to afford meat or fish every other day. Starting in 2021 the question was given to all respondents.
Cannot afford dental care: Has been in need of dental care within the past 12 months without being able to afford it.
Cannot afford to replace worn-out furniture: Lives in a household that cannot afford to replace worn-out furniture when needed. Before 2021 this question was not asked to households that found it easy or relatively easy to makes ends meet. This group was categorised as being able to replace worn out furniture. Starting in 2021 the question was given to all respondents.
Cannot afford internet access: Including internet via mobile phone.
Cannot afford to replace worn-out clothes: Cannot afford to replace worn-out clothes when needed.
Cannot afford a car: Lives in a household that does not have a car for private use for economic reasons.
Cannot afford at least one material good: Not able to afford at least one of the following seven items: (i) keeping the home adequately warm, (ii) eat meat or fish every other day, (iii) dental care, (iv) replace worn-out furniture, (v) internet access, (vi) replace worn-out clothes or (vii) a car for private use.
Tenant: Belong to a household that rents their dwelling.
Social deprivation covers the populations ability to afford basic social goods.
Cannot afford one-week annual holiday: Lives in a household that cannot afford to go on a one-week holiday outside the home every year. Holidays outside the home includes stays in a cabin, a holiday home or visiting friends. Before 2021 this question was not asked to households that found it easy or relatively easy to makes ends meet. This group was categorised as being able to afford a holiday. Starting in 2021 the question was given to all respondents.
Cannot afford to spend small amount of money for own pleasure once a week: Cannot afford to spend some money for your own pleasure weekly without consulting another household member. This might include buying a magazine, a small gift, getting something to eat etc.
Cannot afford to participate in regular leisure activities: This might include going to the cinema, a concert etc., exercise or participating in organisational work.
Cannot afford to eat or drink out at least once a month: Cannot afford to go out to eat or drink with friends or family at least once a month. It does not have to be more than having a cup of coffee.
Cannot afford at least one social good: not able to afford at least one of these four social goods: (i) a yearly holiday, (ii) spend some money on yourself every week, (iii) participate in leisure activities or (iv) eat or drink out every month.
Financial difficulties cover the population's subjective description of their financial situation:
Difficult or very difficult to make ends meet: Experience it to be difficult or very difficult to "make ends meet" based on the income of all household members.
Cannot afford an unexpected expense: Lives in a household that cannot afford an unexpected expense of a specific size this month without taking up a loan, selling assets or getting help from others.
From 2019 and onwards the threshold value for an unexpected expense is calculated as a ratio of the national at-risk-of-poverty threshold (EU60) (60 percent of the median income/12). The threshold value for an unexpected expense was:
- 2005-2017: 10 000 NOK
- 2018: 15 000 NOK
- 2019-2020: 18 000 NOK
- 2021: 19 000 NOK
High housing cost burden: Lives in a household where housing expenses constitute at least 25 per cent of the total income after taxes of the entire household. Housing expenses only includes rent, mortgage repayments and interest payments on mortgages taken to buy the main dwelling. Income information is collected from the income register.
Housing costs are a heavy financial burden: Experience the housing costs as very burdensome for the household's economy. Housing costs includes mortgage repayments, housing rent, electricity, local government fees and maintenance. Starting in 2021 this question is only asked every three years (2023, 2026...).
Problems paying housing costs: Belongs to a household that has either been unable to pay rent, mortgage payments, electricity or local government fees within the past 12 months.
Problems paying mortgage: Belongs to a household that has been unable to pay mortgage payments within the past 12 months.
Problems paying credit card debt or hire purchases: Belongs to a household that has been unable to pay credit card bills or hire purchase repayments within the past 12 months. New indicator in 2021.
Problems paying other loans: Belongs to a household that has been unable to pay other loans than housing loans, credit card bills or hire purchase repayments within the past 12 months. This might include student loans, car loans, loans from other private individuals or consumer loans. It was not specified that credit card bills should be excluded before 2021.
Credit card debts or consumer loans are a financial burden: Expenses to credit card debt, hire purchases and other loans. Mortgages taken to buy the main dwelling are excluded. New indicator in 2021.
At least one financial difficulty: Has been unable to pay rent, housing mortgages, other loans, electricity bills or local government fees within the past 12 months. Starting in 2021 it was explicitly stated that inability to pay credit card debts should be included.
Household income decreased the past 12 months: Experiences that the household's income has decreased in the past year. This is self-reported.
Expects household income to decrease next 12 months: This is self-reported.
Medical treatment is a financial burden: Expenses for medical treatments has been very or somewhat burdensome for the household's finances in the past 12 months. This was collected in 2017 and will be collected every three years, starting in 2022.
Dental treatment is a financial burden: Expenses for dental treatments has been very or somewhat burdensome for the household's finances in the past 12 months. This was collected in 2017 and will be collected every three years, starting in 2022.
Medicines are a financial burden: Expenses for medicines has been very or somewhat burdensome for the household's finances in the past 12 months. This was collected in 2017 and will be collected every three years, starting in 2022.
Persons are grouped by age at the beginning of the year for the completion of the main part of the interview.
Centrality is a measure of how far a municipality is from service functions and major employers. The standard for centrality is used. It places the municipalities in a category from 1 (most central) to 6 (least central). A complete list of where each municipality is placed can be found here: https://www.ssb.no/en/klass/klassifikasjoner/128/korrespondanser/619
On January 1st, 2020, the Norwegian counties were changed as follows:
- Vestfold and Telemark
- Møre and Romsdal
- Troms and Finnmark
Family cycle phase
Persons are grouped by which phase of the family cycle they belong to, and this is based on the person’s age, marital status (single/in couple) and whether the person has children, and the youngest child’s age. The concept single persons do not necessarily refer to persons living alone in the household, but rather persons not living in a relationship (they can still live with others, e.g. their parents or their children). Couples includes both married and unmarried couples. The groups with children consist of persons living with their own child(ren) (including stepchildren and adopted children) aged 0-19 years in the household.
The respondents highest completed education level. Starting in 2021 we have asked the respondents with missing information in the administrative registers what their education level is. They were previously cathegorised as having an eduction "Below upper secondary level".
- Below upper secondary level
- Upper secondary level
- Higher education, undergraduate degree
- Higher education, graduate degree or higher
This variable covers the person's own perception of the main activity on the date of the interview. Before 2021 the group "Other" included people on work assessment allowance.
- In retirement
- Disabled or unable to work
- Student or pupil (including compulsory military service)
- Other (including fulfilling domestic task and care responsibilities)
Persons in immigration category B are grouped as immigrants from either immigrants from the EU/EEA etc. or immigrants from Africa, Asia etc. based on their country background. Immigration category B consists of persons born abroad with two foreign born parents and four foreign born grandparents.
- Immigrants from EU/EEA etc. (includes EU/EEA, Switzerland, UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand).
- Immigrants from Africa, Asia etc. (includes Asia, Africa, Latin-America, Oceania outside of Australia and New Zealand and Europe outside of EU/EEA).
Low income, EU: Belong to a household where after-tax income per consumption unit is below 60 per cent of the median income in the population.
After-tax income per consumption unit (equivalent income) is the household after-tax income "corrected" for differences in household size and household composition. When comparing the level of income and living standards for households of varying size, income is often adjusted with the help of equivalence scales or consumption units. An equivalence scale, for instance, provides an indication of how much income a household of four must have in order to achieve the same standard of living as a single person.
EU-equivalence scale: This is the ‘OECD-modified equivalence scale’ which assigns a value of 1 to the household head, of 0.5 to each additional adult member and of 0.3 to each child under the age of 17.
Median income is the exact income amount that splits a distribution in two equally sized groups, when income is sorted ascending (or descending). The number of persons with income over the median income will be the same as the number of persons with income under the median income.
Income quartiles: After-tax income per consumption unit sorted by income quartile.
Recipients of disability benefit: Receives disability pension from the social security system.
Recipient of social assistance: Receivers of social assistance from the social security system.
Recipients of work assessment allowance: Receivers of work assessment allowance from the social security system.
Low income households with children: Households with children aged 0-19 years where the equivalent after-tax income (EU-scale) is in the lowest quartile.
Elderly people with low incomes living alone: Persons aged 67 years and older living alone where the equivalent after-tax income (EU-scale) is in the lowest quartile.
Division for income and living conditions statistics.
National and residential area.
The Survey of Living Conditions EU-SILC is carried out annually.
In 2011, the data collection of the national topics in the Survey on Living Conditions was merged with the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC). EU-SILC is a European sample survey of income, social exclusion and living conditions that is coordinated through the EU's statistics agency Eurostat and anchored in the European Statistical System (ESS). Cross-sectional and panel files are sent to Eurostat annually. EU-SILC microdata is available to researchers and students through Eurostat.
Data files with results from the interviews and statistical files with coded variables, linked information and weights are stored. Anonymised files are also available for researchers through the NSD - Norwegian Centre for Research Data.
The main purpose of the statistics on poverty-related problems from the survey on Living Conditions is to map the financial difficulties and material and social deprivation that are most common in Norway, as well as which groups are most at risk of poverty-related problems.
The first surveys of living conditions in Norway were conducted six times between 1973 and 1995. These surveys shed light on the general components of living conditions; economics, housing conditions, leisure, social contact, health, education, employment and working conditions.
In 1996 a coordinated system of surveys was introduced. The system consisted of annual surveys with a repeating panel survey (EU-SILC from 2003) and a set of national rotating topics repeated every three years. The rotating topics were working environment, housing, outdoor activities, victims of crime, health and social relations.
In 2011 the present system for survey-based statistics on living conditions was introduced. A key objective of the new system was better coordination with international requirements connected to EU-SILC. National themes were coordinated with the European EU-SILC. The new system covers the presented topics from previous living condition surveys, in addition to new themes to illuminate political participation, social networks and economic and social problems.
New European regulations on social statistics were introduced in 2021. A common framework were established for all the social statistics regulated by Eurostat (IESS - Integrated European Social Statistics). This affects the parts of the survey that is regulated. There were made some adjustments to the national survey at the same time, e.g. new weights and revisions of the national modules.
In addition to the regular surveys of living conditions, Statistics Norway can on commission conduct individual surveys among selected groups.
The main users are government ministries, directorates, and research communities in the areas of working environment, health care, housing, leisure and local environment and living conditions in general.
Data from the survey is also widely used by the media and the general public.
No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on ssb.no at 08:00 am. Prior to this, a minimum of three months' advance notice is given in the Statistics Release Calendar. This is one of Statistics Norway’s key principles for ensuring that all users are treated equally.
The statistics on Poverty-related problems covers some of the same indicators as the statistics on Housing conditions. The statistics on Income and wealth for households provide information on annual and persistent low income.
Information on wealth and income is retrieved from registry data. Furthermore, data on some demographic variables and data on education and social benefits are provided from registers.
Information on housing is also available from registers. The Survey of Consumer Expenditure also has issues on housing conditions, including a more detailed summary of most kinds of housing expenditures.
Information on employment is collected from several sources. The Labour Force Survey is an important source and provides information that supplements the information in the study of living conditions, e.g. training in the workplace, weekend work, working arrangements and the attachment of the disabled to the labour market. Some records, such as the employee/employer registry, sick leave registry etc. are also relevant. The information in these registers can also be utilised in the Survey on Living Conditions.
The Survey on Living Conditions, EU-SILC is a European sample survey on income, social inclusion and living conditions coordinated by Eurostat. Eurostat annually publishes the results from the survey on living conditions. It is thus possible to compare Norway to other European countries. http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/income-and-living-conditions/overview
The population is residents aged 16 years and over not living in institutions.
Data sources are interview data from representative sample surveys and various associated registries. The gross sample for the Survey on Living Conditions, EU-SILC comprises approximately 12 000 individuals. The sample is drawn according to the procedures for random selection.
Data collection is done by telephone (Computer Assisted Telephone Interview CATI). Data collection for the Survey of Living Conditions EU-SILC mainly occurs from January to May in the year of interview.
The interview takes place using a computer-based questionnaire. The questionnaire includes various controls to prevent incorrect answers or registration errors during the interview. In some cases, the interviewer receives warnings for the registered response. In other cases, there is a limit on values that cannot be exceeded. Moreover, it verifies that only valid codes are recorded.
Surveys that collect information on industry and occupation are encoded by Statistics Norway.
The sample consists of people. The analysis unit is primarily a person, but can in some cases be a household. Using the household as the unit of analysis requires the use of weights.
Statistics Norway has guidelines for merging data from different data sources (registers) for statistical purposes. The guidelines are based on Statistics Norway's authorisation given by The Norwegian Data Protection Authority, and the Statistics Act. According to these guidelines, responses given in surveys can only be used for the purpose of producing statistics, i.e. information concerning groups of people will be given, but not individuals. When survey data files are linked to registers, encryption techniques are used in order to ensure that persons cannot be identified from the survey or register information in the mergeddata file.
The gross sample is drawn to be representative for the Norwegian population and consists of about 11 500 persons annually.
Not all persons in the gross sample participates in the survey. The persons who does not participate represent a non-response group in the sample. Because non-response differs between groups, the net sample will not be fully representative for the Norwegian population. This bias will vary for different groups and variables in question.
To adjust for some of the biases in the net sample, figures in the tables are weighted. The following variables are included in the weighting for non-response: Sex, age, education level, income, family size, immigrant background and county (fylke).
Previously published data were updated with new weights August 16th 2022.
The uncertainty of findings based on a sample from the population is often called sampling variance. The standard deviation is a measure of this uncertainty. The size of the standard deviation depends, among other factors, on the number of observations in the sample, and on the distribution of the current variable in the whole population.
Statistic Norway has not made exact calculations to compute standard deviation for the findings. However, in table 1, the approximate size of standard deviation is given for observed percentages.
To illustrate the uncertainty associated with a percentage, we can use an interval to give the level of the true value of an estimated quantity (the value obtained if making observation on the whole population instead of observation based on a part of the population). Such intervals are called confidence intervals if constructed in a special way. In this connection one can use the following method: let M be the estimated quantity, and S the estimate of standard deviation of M. The confidence interval will be an interval with limits (M - 2*S) and (M + 2*S). This method will give, with approximately 95 per cent probability, an interval containing the true value.