Poverty-related problems, survey on living conditions
Updated: 3 May 2023
Next update: Not yet determined
|Cannot afford to keep the home adequately warm||1.2||2.0|
|Cannot afford to replace worn-out furniture||9.4||10.3|
|Cannot afford at least one material good||16.1||18.0|
|Cannot afford one-week annual holiday||7.5||7.3|
|Cannot afford to participate in regular leisure activities||3.8||4.6|
|Cannot afford at least one social good||11.0||11.2|
|Difficult or very difficult to make ends meet||6.5||6.6|
|Cannot afford an unexpected expense||21.2||20.4|
|At least one financial difficulty||5.9||5.9|
|1Figures for previous years were revised on 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.
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 make 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 make 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 make 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 does not own their dwelling.
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 include stays in a cabin, a holiday home or visiting friends or family. 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 member of the household. 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.
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 belongings 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). Threshold value for an unexpected expense:
- 2022: 20 000 NOK
- 2021: 19 000 NOK
- 2019-2020: 18 000 NOK
- 2018: 15 000 NOK
- 2005-2017: 10 000 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 include rent and housing mortgage payments. 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 include mortgage repayments, housing rent, electricity, local government fees and maintenance. Starting in 2020 this question is only asked every three years (2020, 2023, 2026...).
Problems paying housing costs: Belongs to a household that has been unable to pay either 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 housing 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: Population 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 county.
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.
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.
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 statistics are developed, produced and disseminated pursuant to Act no. 32 of 21 June 2019 relating to official statistics and Statistics Norway (the Statistics Act).
Regulation (EU) 2019/1700 of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a common framework for European statistics relating to persons and households, based on data at individual level collected from samples.
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. Income data is collected from Statistics Norway's income register, which is mainly based on information from the tax return.
The gross sample for the Survey on Living Conditions, EU-SILC comprises approximately 11,500 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 June 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 household weights.
Information on income, education and housing are linked from administrative registers.
The gross sample is drawn so that it reflects the population, but beacuase non-response is unequal across groups, the net sample is not representative. This bias varies across characteristics and variables. To adjust for bias in the net sample compared to the population, we use weights. The weights let answers from individuals with underrepresented characteristics count more, while answers from individuals with characteristics that are overrepresented count less. The weight thus adjusts for bias compared to the population the statistics are supposed to cover. The figures are calibrated against register information on sex, age, immigration background, income, education, county and family size.
The figures in the statbank are published as percentages and estimated numbers in the population.
For households with missing interview data about housing expenses, values are imputed based on responses from similar households. Mortgage expenses are imputed based on information on debt from the income register. From 2021, information tenure status is obtained from the register for households and dwellings if the questions are not answered in the interview.
Interviewers and everyone who works at Statistics Norway have a duty of confidentiality. Statistics Norway has its own data protection officer.
Statistics Norway does not publish figures where there is a risk of identifying individual data about persons or households.
More information can be found on Statistics Norway’s website under Methods in official statistics, in the ‘Confidentiality’ section.
In 2021 several changes were made to the Survey on living conditions EU-SILC, which may cause breaks in time series. The changes entailed an alteration in the order of the interview questions and in question wording.
The same year, new weights were developed. The main differences compared to the previous weights are that the net sample previously was weighted so that it corresponded to the gross sample, whereas the new weights are calibrated to reflect the population. In addition, the new weights include more population characteristics: immigration background, county and income, in addition to gender, age group and family size.
In the statistics on Poverty problems, figures from the years before 2021 have been revised with new weights to improve comparabilty of the data. Indicators where questions or calculations have been altered are marked with footnotes in the statbank.
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.
Answers from the Living Conditions Survey EU-SILC are combined with data from the income register. Register data on income is used both as a source of income variables, but from 2021 income is also included in the weights that adjust for non-response. As a rule, we use income data from the year before the survey is carried out. However, because data from the previous year is only available at the end of the year the survey is carried out, the survey data is first linked with income data from two years before the survey. These data are used in preliminary weights, which are used in the publication of national statistics. In the publication of the statistics on poverty problems, we use data with income from the year before the survey is carried out.
At the time of the publication of the 2021 data of Poverty-related problems, revised figures were published for previous years. The most important change in the revised figures was the weighting method (see Comparability over time and space above). This caused a slight increase in the proportion of the population with poverty problems. For example, the proportion lacking at least one material good in 2021 was 14.8 per cent with the old weight compared to 16.1 per cent with the new weight. The proportion who lack at least one social good increased from 10 to 11 per cent and the proportion who have at least one payment problem increased from 5.5 to 5.9 per cent.
When publishing the 2022 data, figures for all previous cohorts were revised again. This was due to improvements in the weighting routine and generally led to very small changes in the figures. The percentages are typically either unchanged or changed by 0.1 percentage point. In smaller groups, some larger changes may be found. The changes in population estimates are also generally small, but some figures have changed by 3-4,000 persons.
For some variables, the revision of the 2021 figures is somewhat larger. This applies to the indicators on housing cost burden and tenure status. These changes were due to a new imputation routine, where information from registers is used to correct for missing responses. This method is not applied on the data from the years before 2021.