Bulgaria's Poverty Reality: One-Fifth Below the Line in 2023

Finance |Author: Diana Kavardzhikova | April 26, 2024, Friday // 15:42|  views


The National Statistical Institute reports that in 2023, the poverty line for the entire country stood at 637.92 BGN per person per month within households. At this threshold, 1.3 million individuals fell below the poverty line, constituting 20.6% of the nation's populace.

These poverty indicators are critical metrics the European Community uses to monitor countries' progress in combating poverty and social exclusion. Despite the increase in the poverty line, there was a slight decrease of 2.3% in the relative share of the poor population compared to 2022.

The report underscores the impact of economic activity and labor market participation on poverty levels. Unsurprisingly, the unemployed face the highest risk of poverty, with 56.8% falling below the poverty line in 2023. Additionally, part-time workers are at a significantly higher risk than full-time employees.

Education also plays a pivotal role, with the relative share of working poor individuals with primary education being the highest at 66.5%. Conversely, those with higher education experience the lowest poverty rates at 3.2%.

Ethnicity is another factor influencing poverty rates, with the Roma ethnic group facing the highest relative share of poverty at 65.0%. Notably, constraints related to satisfying wants and needs vary among ethnicities, highlighting disparities in socio-economic well-being.

Regional disparities in poverty levels are evident, with the lowest poverty line observed in Montana and Vidin, and the highest in Sofia, followed by Varna, Pernik, and Kyustendil.

Despite efforts to combat poverty, over 3 million Bulgarians (46.7%) struggle to meet unexpected expenses, while nearly 20% cannot afford meat or fish every other day. Additionally, a significant portion of the population lacks the financial capacity for basic needs such as maintaining room temperature and purchasing new furniture.

In 2023, 18.0% of the population experienced severe material and social deprivation. The extent of limitations in meeting specific needs and desires varied depending on ethnicity. Among Bulgarians, 12.7% faced constraints in 7 out of 13 indicators, while the figures were 20.6% for Turks and 58.3% for Roma.

Regarding poverty lines, Montana and Vidin had the lowest at 446 and 466 BGN respectively, whereas Sofia (the capital) had the highest at 990 BGN, followed by Varna (736 BGN), Pernik (716 BGN), and Kyustendil (702 BGN).

In terms of the relative share of the poor compared to the poverty line, Stara Zagora had the highest at 25.8%, followed by Kyustendil (24.6%), Sofia (the capital) (22.2%), and Dobrich (22.0%). Conversely, Gabrovo had the lowest at 7.6%, followed by Smolyan (9.6%), Yambol (10.7%), and Shumen (10.9%).

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