One in three people over the age of 65 is at risk of poverty or social exclusion, according to new data published by the National Statistics Office.

The data was published as part of an annual EU-wide study on living conditions, known as the Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (SILC).

The study found that just over 100,000 people in Malta, or one in five, are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, with the elderly being the most likely to be at risk.

While the overall rate of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion remained similar to previous years, rising slightly from 19.4% in 2017 to 20.1% in 2022, the rate of persons over 65 at risk grew by three percentage points between 2021 and 2022.

A staggering 42% of people over 65 living alone are at risk of dropping below the poverty line, an almost 7% increase over the previous year, while 43% of single-parent households also face the same risk.

Women are more likely to be at risk of poverty or social exclusion across all age groups, with the difference being particularly marked amongst people over 65. Among this age group, women are 6% more likely to be at risk compared to men.

In a statement, the Ministry for Social Policy said that the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion has shrunk by 4.5% since 2013 when the figure stood at 24.6%.

Can people afford basic expenses?

The study also examines the degree to which people can afford several basic living expenses. It found that almost 11% are unable to regularly participate in a leisure activity, 7.6% are unable to keep their home adequately warm in winter and 6.6% are unable to afford two pairs of properly fitting shoes.

In addition, 33% are unable to afford a one-week annual holiday away from home and 15.4% are likely to be unable to afford unexpected financial expenses that may arise. These figures are all similar to the previous year.

Nonetheless, severe material deprivation is calculated to have marginally decreased to 4.9%, 0.5 percentage points less than in 2021. This is the first time it has dipped under 5% since 2018 but remains higher than the 4.3% registered in 2017.

Disposable income increases, income inequality above EU average

The survey also found that the disposable income of households had increased by some €2,000 between 2021 and 2022, now reaching an average of €34,814.

Meanwhile, income inequality was calculated to have decreased marginally, from a 31.2% in 2021 to 31.1% in 2022.

Although EU-wide data for 2022 is not yet available, Malta’s income inequality remains higher than the EU-wide average for 2021, which measured at 30.2%.

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