About 1.63 million Bulgarians, close to 23 per cent of the country’s population, were below the average monthly poverty line in 2016, the National Statistical Institute (NSI) said in an annual report.
The NSI said that the average monthly poverty line for Bulgaria in 2016 was 308.17 leva (about 157.44 euro) a person.
As of 2017, the legal minimum salary in Bulgaria is about 470 leva. As of July 1 2017, the minimum monthly pension will be about 157 leva.
The NSI said that, compared with 2015, the share of the poor population in Bulgaria increased by 0.9 percentage points.
According to 2016 data, if the income from pensions is included into the household’s income and the remainder of social transfers are excluded, the poverty level increases from 22.9 per cent to 27.9 per cent, about five percentage points.
And in turn, if the pensions and the rest of the social transfers are excluded, the poverty level increases up to 45.5p per cent, a jump of 22.5 percentage points.
The NSI said that in 2016, the share of poor was highest among the unemployed (54.6 per cent) and the risk of poverty for unemployed male is 6.7 percentage points higher than for unemployed female.
Poverty estimates by type of household, show that poverty is concentrated among elderly single-person households, single parents with children and households with three or more children.
Compared to the previous year, in 2016 the highest increase of the risk of poverty wasamong single-person households with dependant children – an increase of 12.2 percentage points.
The percentage of the poor was lowest among households with two adults with one child (12.4 per cent) and two adults aged below 65 years (16 per cent).
For the first time, the NSI also recorded ethnicity in the report on the poor, on the basis of respondents voluntarily answering questions about this.
The highest share of the poor was among Bulgaria’s Roma ethnic group, 77.1 per cent, and lowest among “Bulgarians” (meaning, in the way the survey was done, people who did not declare themselves to be Roma or ethnic Turkish, for example), 15.7 per cent.
Among Bulgarians – in terms of that classification – the highest percentage of the poor was among retired people, 42.6 per cent. But among Roma people, the highest percentage was among the unemployed, 39.1 per cent.
The NSI said that its data showed that the highest number of households have restrictions on affording a holiday away from home (56.3 per cent) and the ability to afford unexpected required expenses with own resources (urgent repair of the dwelling or car, replacement of washing machine or refrigerator, sudden illness, etc.) – 54.1 per cent.
In parallel, 2.8 per cent of respondents cannot afford having a telephone (including mobile), 1.4 per cent a colour TV, nine per cent a washing machine, and 34.5 per cent of the households said that they cannot afford having a meal with meat, chicken or fish every second day.
A third of Bulgarians in households have arrears on the payment of housing-related costs in time, as 39.2 per cent of the households cannot keep their home adequately warm.
In 2016, 31.9 per cent of the population lived in severe material deprivation (limitations in four of nine indicators).
Limitations connected to satisfaction of certain needs and necessities differed among the different ethnic groups, the NSI said.
Among all ethnic groups, the highest percentage was of people who cannot afford a holiday away from home – 91.9 per cent of Roma, 77.2 per cent of ethnic Turkish and 50.2 per cent of the Bulgarian population.
The NSI said that more than 80 per cent of Roma cannot afford unexpected required expenses using their own funds and 70.1 per cent cannot afford to have a meal with meat, chicken or fish every second day. The respective shares for the ethnic Turkish population wre 67 per cent and 35 per cent.
In 2016, 31.9 per cent of children aged 0 – 17 years in Bulgaria were at risk of poverty, about 6.5 percentage points higher than in 2015, the NSI said.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)