One in five Belarusians lives below the poverty line — BEROC

Over the past three years, the number of people living in poverty has been declining in Belarus, due to the gradual recovery of the country’s economy from the crisis of 2015-2016. However, one in five people in the country still live below the poverty line.

This conclusion was reached by the authors of the BEROC study.

BEROC researcher Aleh Mazol studied the welfare level of the population of Belarus and found that in 2019, the absolute poverty rate fell by 2.4 percentage points — from 23.9% to 21.5% of the total population. A year earlier, the number of poor people had decreased by 6.6 percentage points.

Among the regions, the Mahiliou region remains the poorest — in 2019 it had 31% of the poor population. Over the past year, this figure has also increased in Minsk — from 8.6% to 13.1% and in Vitsebsk voblast — from 25% to 27% of the population.

The number of poor people decreased in Minsk and Hrodna voblasts — from 25.4% to 17.8% and from 23.1% to 17%, respectively.

The current economic crisis threatens to drastically increase the proportion of poor people, mainly at the expense of the most vulnerable groups: children, large families and residents of rural areas.

Meanwhile, according to official statistics, the number of poor people in Belarus was only 5% in 2019. The difference can be explained by the difference in the research methodology. The BEROC method, recommended by the World Bank, is based on the calculation of the absolute poverty line using the Basic Needs Costing method. The Belstat classifies poor people as those who have a smaller minimum subsistence budget.