This is an archived release.
Social assistance rolls down 6 300
The number of social assistance recipients went down from around 132 500 clients in 1998 to just over 126 200 in 1999. This is a decline of nearly five per cent, or around 6 300 persons, from the year before. The social assistance rolls have not been this small since 1987. A total of NOK 3.8 billion was paid out in social assistance last year.
The decline in the number of social assistance clients, which started in the mid-1990s, continued in 1999. Since the peak year in 1994, when more than 166 000 persons received social assistance, the decline in the number of social assistance recipients has been stable. While around 132 500 social assistance recipients were registered in 1998, the rolls decreased to 126 200 recipients in 1999. This figure shows how many received assistance over the course of the year. If we look at the number of recipients of social assistance at the end of the year, we see that it decreased from just over 53 000 persons in 1998 to just under 52 000 persons in 1999.
Altogether NOK 3.8 billion in social assistance was paid out last year. This is an increase of about NOK 5 million, or 0.1 per cent compared with the year before (calculated in constant prices). Average annual social assistance benefits per recipient last year was NOK 30 300, or just over NOK 6 100 per month with assistance. The corresponding figures for 1998 were NOK 28 200 and 5 600. The monthly level of social assistance thus increased by nine per cent, while the annual benefit amount increased by seven per cent.
202 000 persons taken care of by social assistance
The number of social assistance clients with spouse and children under 18 who were taken care of by social assistance last year totalled around 202 000 persons, or 4.5 per cent of the entire population. The corresponding figure from 1998 was around 215 000 persons, or 4.9 per cent of the population. Compared to the year before, around 5 000 fewer children under the age of 18 were provided for by social assistance recipients (58 000 in 1999 compared with 63 000 in 1998).
The decline in the number of repeat recipients of social assistance is the main factor in the large decrease in the number of recipients. While 98 000 persons in 1997 and 89 000 persons in 1998 had also received social assistance the previous year, 81 000 recipients in 1999 had also received social assistance in 1998. The number of new clients or clients who had not received social assistance the year before, declined every year from 1989 to 1998, but increased slightly in 1999. In 1989 there were 69 000 new clients, in 1999 the figure was 45 000. The decline in the number of social assistance recipients this year is consequently a function of the departure of repeat clients being greater than the growth of new clients.
Decline among long-term recipients
While the number of long-term users of social assistance increased until 1996, when more than 41 per cent of all recipients received social assistance for six or more months, 1997 ushered in a reverse of this trend. In 1999 the number of long-term recipients fell to about 37 per cent from nearly 38 per cent the year before. The number of clients who receive benefits the entire year has also declined. In 1999 just over 11 200 social assistance recipients were clients the entire year, against 12 400 in 1998 and more than 14 000 in 1997.
Because of the decrease in the number of long-term recipients the average duration of benefit has declined. In 1999 the duration of benefit was 4.9 months, against 5.0 the year before. The corresponding figure for 1997 was 5.1 months.
Biggest decline among young people
The biggest decline in the number of social assistance clients at the close of the 1990s occurred among young people. While 22 300 clients were between 20 and 24 in 1998, the corresponding number last year was around 20 800. This is equivalent to about seven per cent of the population between 20 and 24 years of age, against eight per cent in 1998. The corresponding figure from 1994 was 11 per cent.
After remaining stable for many years, the number of social assistance recipients aged 40 and up declined slightly in 1997 after remaining stable for many years. In relation to the population the number of clients is noticeably lower in the oldest age groups than among the youngest. In 1999 well under one per cent of the population aged 67 and up received social assistance.
There has been a slight increase in the number of clients who have listed income from employment as their main source of income. In 1999 and 1998 this applied to just over 12 per cent of recipients, after remaining stable at about 11 per cent since 1993. The number of recipients listing pension as their main source of income has declined throughout the 1990s. While this applied to 45 per cent of recipients in 1990 the corresponding figure for last year was 34 per cent. On the other hand, it looks as though clients are becoming increasingly more dependent on social assistance as a source of income; the number of social assistance recipients listing social assistance as their main source of income has climbed every year since 1988. In 1988 this applied to 27 per cent of clients, against 43 per cent in 1995 and 46 per cent in 1999.
Finnmark has highest share of social assistance cases
There are huge differences among the counties in the number of social assistance cases in proportion to the population. Last year, 20 800 persons received social assistance in Oslo. In 1998, Oslo had 44 cases of social assistance per 1 000 inhabitants; in 1999 the number fell to 41 cases. Finnmark had the highest share of social assistance cases, with 45 cases per 1 000 inhabitants. Finnmark also saw a decrease from the year before, from a share of 47 cases in 1998, but Oslo had a bigger decline.
Akershus had the fewest social assistance cases in proportion to the population, with 22 cases per 1 000 inhabitants. The share of social assistance cases increases with the number of inhabitants in the municipality. Municipalities with more than 50 000 inhabitants have an average of 35 cases per 1 000 inhabitants, while the corresponding number for municipalities with under 20 000 residents is 27 cases.
Highest benefit level in Oslo
The regional differences in the level of average annual benefit amounts are also large. Oslo has the clearly highest level of benefit, with an average of NOK 42 400 per case. This is nearly NOK 10 000 or 33 per cent more than the next county, Akershus, with NOK 32 000 per case. Once again, Finnmark had the lowest average benefit level in 1999, with NOK 17 800 per case.
There is close correlation between the size of the municipality and benefit level. The level of the benefit is highest in the most populated municipalities. While the average benefit per case in municipalities with more than 50 000 residents was NOK 35 100 in 1999, the corresponding number for municipalities with under 5 000 inhabitants was NOK 17 200. Social assistance is meant to cover the housing costs of clients. High housing costs in densely populated municipalities is the reason for higher levels of social assistance in these municipalities.
- Table 1 Number of cases on social assistance, by age, county and size of municipality. 1987-1999
- Table 2 Expenditure on social assistance, by nature of assistance, county and size of municipality. 1987-1999. 1999-kroner
- Table 3 Average payments of social assistance per month on assistance. Figures of duration of benefit and family cycle phase. 1999
- Table 4 Recipients of social assistance, by duration of benefit and family cycle phase. 1999
- Table 5 Recipients of social assistance, by number of municipalities from which they have received payments and age. 1999
- Table 6 Recipients of social assistance, by main source of income and family cycle phase. 1999
- Table 7 Recipients of social assistance, by labour force status and family cycle phase. 1999
- Table 8 Recipients of social assistance, by type of allowance and family cycle phase. 1999
- Table 9 Recipients of social assistance, by citizenship and age. 1999