Poverty in Estonia
Poverty in Estonia? Since the country regained its independence in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Estonia has been relatively economically successful. In fact, it emerged as an economic pioneer among former Soviet states in the late 1990s.

The country takes good care of their 1.3 million citizens. Life expectancy for men is 70 years of age, while life expectancy for women hovers around 80 years. This puts Estonia in a fairly good position in relation to the rest of the modern world. In the wake of the Financial Crisis of 2008, Estonia has been able to almost fully restore its economy.

 

Poverty in Estonia: Recovering from the 2008 Crisis

 

During the period following the Financial Crisis, income inequality reached record highs. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) 2016 report shows that while the wealthy bounced back quickly from the crisis, the wages of those below the relative poverty line have yet to return to what they were pre-crisis. Despite decreases in unemployment, every fifth person in Estonia lives in relative poverty. More than one-quarter of Estonia’s wealth is hoarded by the richest members of the country.

The absolute poverty rate is highest in children, young people and pre-retirement age people. Education level significantly affects the chance of becoming impoverished in Estonia. Among those who had access to only lower education, every third existed in the poorest demographic and only one-twelfth existed in the largest income quintile. Thus, better education is a prerequisite for the eradication of poverty in Estonia.

However, the most notable aspect of poverty in Estonia is not how it effects, but who it effects. Those who are most at risk for poverty are pensioners. Pensioners are often older citizens who need pensions. Thus, the highest cases of poverty exist within the elderly community. In 2013, nearly 32 percent of Estonian citizens above the age of 65 lived in relative poverty.

These are all problems that may be remedied with internal drive and external aid. Some solutions that have been posed include The Strategy of Children and Families and increasing benefits for elderly citizens. Meanwhile, those who are not citizens can aid the poor in Estonia by supporting such acts as the “Education for All Act” which ensures funding is allotted in areas where education deficit remains a problem globally.

Kayla Provencher

Photo: Flickr