Economic development in Cyprus is slowly but surely fostering increased social cohesion, Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said in a written statement on Tuesday, after the results of an EU-wide survey on income and living conditions (Silc) showed figures he claims are at pre-crisis levels.
The survey results released by Cystat on Tuesday showed that in 2017, a total of 205,900 people (23.9 per cent) living in the government-controlled areas were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, an improvement compared to previous years.
Households at risk of poverty or social exclusion are those whose disposable income is below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold (Arop), or are living in severely materially-deprived households (SMD).
In line with an improving trend over the previous years, the figure was lower than that of 2016 (25.2 per cent) and 2015 (28.9 per cent).
This improvement was seen for both men and women, at 23.1 per cent and 24.7 per cent respectively, though women throughout the years were more at risk than men.
“All indicators recording either income inequality or poverty risk and social exclusion have retuned to pre-crisis levels and are close or even in a better position than the EU average,” Georgiades said.
Stressing the need for further improvement, Georgiades said that the goal of government policy is the enhancement of social cohesion in light of which the government strived for full employment and for measures that ensure the profits from economic development reach the bulk of the population.
At-Risk-of-Poverty Indicator (AROP)
The percentage of the population with a disposable income below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold, exhibited a small decrease, reaching 15.4 per cent compared to 15.7 per cent in 2017. The highest percentage that this indicator has ever reached was 16.2 per cent in 2015.
In 2018, the threshold increased to €9,202 for single person households, up from €8,698 in 2017. The threshold for households with two adults and two dependent children also rose to €19,323 in 2018, compared to €18,266 in 2017.
Severe Material Deprivation Indicator (SMD)
The percentage of the population that was severely material deprived, meaning that they could not afford for example to pay their rent, utility bills or loans; or keep their home adequately warm in winter; or to face unexpected but necessary expenses, decreased in 2018 to 10.2 per cent, compared to 11.5 per cent in 2017.
The mean annual disposable income of a household in 2018, with income reference period the year 2017, was €30,807, exhibiting a minor increase in respect to that of the previous year, which was €30,376.
Income inequality exhibited a decrease in relation to the previous year, thus indicating an improvement in the income distribution among households.
The income share of the richest 20 per cent of the population compared to that of the poorest 20 per cent of the population, was in 2018 4.3 times higher than that of the poorer group.
The figure shows a slight improvement to the previous year, where the richer group earned 4.6 times higher incomes than the poorer group.