15% of Belgians live under the poverty line with the expansion of precarious forms of employment a key factor, the first nationwide annual study of the issue shows.
Children and elderly (65+) are the most badly affected, with poverty rates of 18.5% and 19.4% respectively
The poverty line is set at Euros 973 a month for a single person and Euros 2,044 for a household of two adults and two children.
Work doesn’t necessarily stave off poverty, the study found, as one in five living under the poverty line are in employment. The explanation is the growth in “precarious” jobs, says the study.
In the name of increasing the country’s “competitiveness”, there has been proliferation of “flexible” work contracts in Belgium in recent years, which have been used primarily by young people and women.
Just under a quarter of Belgian workers are in part-time jobs, which are also often offered as temporary contracts that are renewed repeatedly when they run out so employers can benefit from access to labour while denying workers basic employment rights. Hours worked on a temporary basis tripled between 1993 and 2006 in Belgium.