Material deprivation and financial poverty are concepts designed to indicate various aspects of individuals’ and households’ living conditions. While financial poverty (income poverty) concerns the lack of funds required for individuals to satisfy their needs (considered to be essential in the society in which they live), material deprivation pertains to the actual status attained by individuals (the ability to obtain the goods and services considered necessary for a high-quality life).
Within the concept of deprivation, vulnerability is analysed using outcome-based non-monetary indicators. While income-based financial poverty assesses the potential of an individual to satisfy all their needs, the concept of material deprivation provides for an analysis of the effective standard of living.
Material deprivation may, thus, be viewed as a consequence of poverty.
One is materially deprived if one cannot afford at least three out of nine specified items, severely materially deprived if one cannot afford at least four items, and extremely materially deprived if one cannot afford five or more items.
The rate of material deprivation is defined as the share of the population under material deprivation in the total population. Severe material deprivation rate and extreme material deprivation rate are defined by analogy.
Intensity of material deprivation represents the mean number of items that the materially deprived portion of the population cannot afford.
Material deprivation (MD) is assessed depending on whether an individual is living in a household that can afford items from the following list:
- Adequate heating of a dwelling;
- Settling an unexpected expense to the amount of RSD 10,000.00;
- Meal of meat or fish (or vegetarian equivalent) every other day;
- A one-week annual holiday outside the home;
- Regular payment of rent, instalments for a home loan or other loan, or municipal services for the home;
- Colour TV;
- Washing machine;
- Car, and
The rate of material deprivation in the Republic of Serbia in 2019 was 25.5%, and even though it has been declining in the observed period, it remains well above the EU average. In 2019, the material deprivation rate in the EU was 12.0%, the rate of severe material deprivation 5.4%, and extreme 1.9%.
The Republic of Serbia is at the very top of the EU 28 countries with the highest values of these indicators. Less favourable values are registered only in Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, and North Macedonia.
The intensity of material deprivation, i.e., the average number of items that cannot be afforded by a materially deprived individual in the Republic of Serbia in 2019 is 4, and is slightly above the average value for the EU (3.8).
Rate of material deprivation, severe and extreme material deprivation, 2013-2019
Source: Eurostat database Table Material deprivation rate for the ‘Economic strain’ and ‘Durables’ dimensions, by number of items of deprivation
The economic dimension of material deprivation (the first five items on the list) are more significant for explaining vulnerability than the inability to afford certain durable consumer goods that, other than a car, can be afforded by nearly all households in the Republic of Serbia. Judging by the data below, most individuals live in households that cannot afford going on vacation (50.5%), but what is worrying is that a significant share of individuals live in households that cannot afford basic needs, such as adequate heating of the dwelling (9.9%) or adequate nutrition (15.1%).
A trend of decreasing vulnerability on all points is noted through the years.
Selected indicators of the economic dimension of material deprivation in the Republic of Serbia, 2013-2019
|A household that cannot afford:||2013.||2014.||2015.||2016.||2017.||2018.||2019.|
|Adequate heating of a dwelling||18.3||17.1||15.2||13.3||13.1||10.0||9.9|
|A one-week annual holiday outside the home||67.2||68.4||68.5||62.8||56.9||52.0||50.5|
|Meal with meat or fish (or vegetarian equivalent) every other day||30.6||26.1||24.6||20.3||21.2||18.8||15.1|
|Debts and delays||39.0||43.5||37.8||36.7||20.4||30.1||27.5|
Source: Eurostat database Tables Economic strain
The profile of severe material deprivation shown below indicates the following:
- There are no statistically significant differences in the rate of severe material deprivation by gender, explained by cohabitation in households where both sexes are most frequently present
- Age-based differences are not high, but are notable – children are less vulnerable, while those older than 65 are more vulnerable than the average. In this regard, the vulnerability profile differs from the profile of both absolute and relative poverty.
- Regarding the type of household, single-person households, single parents and families with two adults and three or more dependent children are at the highest risk of severe material deprivation. Overall, households without children are more vulnerable than those with children.
- Among individuals in the poorest income quintile in 2019 as many as 39.4% cannot afford 4 or more items, while in the richest income quintile this share is merely 2.5%. As expected, higher income means being able to afford more items.
- Regarding the most frequent status in the labour market, unemployed persons are the most vulnerable. Unlike the relative poverty profile, the vulnerability of employed and self-employed persons is the same, while pensioners are in a worse position than both of those categories.
During the observed period, the rate of severe material deprivation has been decreasing for all individuals, regardless of their labour market status.
Rate of severe material deprivation by population characteristics in the Republic of Serbia, 2013-2019 (%)
|65 and over||26.9||27.1||25.9||20.9||20.5||17.8||15.4|
|One adult person with dependent children||44.9||43.8||42.6||30.2||28.0||33.5||27.3|
|Two adult persons with one dependent child||26.7||22.9||18.9||16.7||19.2||14.3||14.1|
|Two adult persons, 2 children||20.3||19.1||15.6||9.3||7.7||9.4||9.9|
|Two adult persons, 3 or more children||36.1||26.8||28.0||28.0||23.5||23.4||33.2|
|Households without dependent children||28.2||30.0||27.9||22.9||20.4||18.6||16.2|
|Households with dependent children||25.9||23.4||21.0||16.9||15.0||13.7||13.2|
|Most frequent status in the labour market (18 and above)|
|Employed with an employer||18.0||17.0||14.6||11.1||9.8||9.7||7.5|
• During the observed period, the rate of severe material deprivation decreases for all individuals, regardless of the status on the labour market.
Source: Eurostat database Table Severe material deprivation rate by income quintile and household type; Severe material deprivation rate by most frequent activity status (population aged 18 and over)
For more information on material deprivation, see:
- The Third National Report on Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction in the Republic of Serbia for the Period 2014–2017
- The Second National Report on Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction in the Republic of Serbia
- Measuring Poverty – Theoretical Concepts, Status and Recommendations on Serbia
- Monitoring Social Inclusion in Republic of Serbia – Third Revised Edition
- Monitoring Social Inclusion in Republic of Serbia – Material deprivation
- Data on material deprivation for the EU and Serbia are available at ec.europa.eu