Lithuania is one of the three European Baltic States and also a new addition to the Eurozone. While the country faces a serious problem with rural poverty, recent indicators and initiatives suggest that Lithuania is a country on the rise.
- Lithuania is a high-income country. Lithuania is considered a high-income country by the World Bank. Its GNI per capita, total income claimed by residents divided by the population, is about $15,000 per year. This is significantly higher than that of Russia ($11000) but less than half of the average in the EU which stands at $34000.
- Very few people in Lithuania are desperately poor. Extreme or desperate poverty isn’t common in Lithuania, less than one percent of the population lives on less than one dollar a day.
- Poverty in Lithuania is widespread but shallow. While very few Lithuanians are extremely poor, many live in moderate poverty. Lithuania’s poverty line is set at LTL 811 ($265), and around 20 percent of the population lives below this measure.
- Poverty is centered in rural areas. One-third of the population live in rural areas, with half of the population employed in agriculture.
- Lithuania has a transitioning economy. In 2015, it became the 19th economy to use the euro. The economy of Lithuania seems to be shifting towards a knowledge-based one, as information and communication technologies are its fastest-growing sectors. However, after being hit incredibly hard by the recession in 2008, the growth of the economy has slowed in recent years.
- Lithuania has comparatively low unemployment and inequality levels. Despite the relatively high poverty rate in Lithuania, other development indicators like unemployment and income inequality are somewhat low. Unemployment stands at 8 percent, which is lower than in France or Italy, and the World Bank’s income inequality indicator, the GINI index, suggests that Lithuania has higher income equality than the U.S., and is comparable to that of Canada.
The EU plans to invest heavily over the next few years. The EU plans to invest $7 billion in aid to Lithuania by 2020, with the main focus on infrastructure. Other major points of investment are in renewable energy and quality employment. With continuing economic growth and help from the EU, poverty numbers may be driven down in the coming years.
– John English