More Maltese women below poverty line in 2018 – NSO

More Maltese women were below the poverty threshold last year according to a recent study on Income and Living Conditions.

The National Statistics Office’s publication of 2018’s European Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU SILC), shows that there has been an almost 1% increase in the number of women in poverty between 2017 and 2018, from 17.3% to 18.1% respectively.

This accounts for 41,672 total women below the new ARP (At-risk-of-Poverty-Rate) threshold. Almost 50% of these women were recorded primarily among those between the ages of 18-64. This number had increased by 0.5%, 13.9% to 14.4% (20,985). Women over 65 accounted for 1.1% of those at risk, 26.4% to 27.5% (12,411).

On the other hand, there were fewer Males facing ARP, NSO reported. There was a decrease from 16.1% to 15.6% (37,013) in total males in poverty, most of these in the over 65 bracket, 23.1% to 22.9% (9,016). Males between 18 – 64 reported a lower decrease from 12.5% to 12.1% (19,067).

Overall, this meant that 78,685 people were now below the poverty threshold, 0.1% more than 2017 (16.7% – 16.8%).

This increase in people facing the risk of poverty comes as a result of the newly calculated threshold for poverty. This sum, which finds the National Equivalised Income from the top and bottom levels of income among the population, now sets the threshold at €8,868. This is recorded an 0.1% increase from €8,713 in 2017, 16.7% – 16.8%. Anyone below this new NEI is considered to be in or at risk of poverty.


Examined over the last two decades, this ‘ARP threshold’ level has continued to grow rapidly. While gradual in pace between 2008 and 2010 (3 indices), this increased 30 indices between 2010 and 2015. From 2016 to 2018, the increase has hit almost 7 indices to 147.

Likewise, the ‘AROPE’ (At Risk of Poverty or Social Exclusion) saw a similar rise between 2008 and 2013 (22 indices), before dropping to around 95 (just over 20 indices) in 2018.

The ‘ARP Rate’ has seen fluctuating levels between 100 and below, before reaching 110 in 2018.

Very high and very low work intensity and unemployment

The figures also demonstrate that the largest majority of those impacted by the ARP are within the bracket of Very Low Work Intensity.

It is recorded that between 2017 and 2018, this has increased by 5.3% (70.6%  – 75.9%). Following this are people in Very High Work Intensity, at 2.7% (2018) compared to 1.5% in 2017.   

Likewise, the number of Unemployed had also increased 0.3% in the one year period, 59.3% to 59.6%.


When analysed by households, NSO reported that there has been an increase in the number of people living in households below the new threshold, with two dependent children.

This is recorded as 16.1% in 2018 (10,584), an almost 2.0% increase on 2017. Just over a quarter of 2018 households with two adults and three children were below the threshold (27.3% – 4,726) and almost half (48.6%) were single parent with one or more dependents (8,561). Together this group of households with dependents had actually dropped from 18.2% – 17.6% in 2018 (42,111).

Conversely but equally important, one and two person households below the threshold are also reported to have increased. This consists of 1 person (older and younger than 65) and two adult accommodation.

Highest ARP in Northern Harbour, lowest in Gozo

Examined by district breakdown, the Northern Harbour was the area with the highest ARP level of all six districts.

While it reported a rate of 18.9%, the Southern Harbour was only 0.4% behind on 18.5%. The Northern district reported a 16.9% rate while the South Eastern had a rate at 15.8%.

The Western district and Gozo and Comino recorded the better rates at 14.1% and 12.0% respectively.