Estonia, the northern European country on the Baltic Sea, has endured much as a former Soviet republic. While it was a part of the USSR, Estonia had an economy that was for the most part equally beneficial to everyone, and had the status of the most prosperous member of the Soviet Union. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Estonian government put reforms in place that caused an increase in the gap between the rich and the poor. The country has seen improvements in human rights and healthcare as a result of its distance from Russia, but there is still a need to fight the causes of poverty in Estonia.
One in five people live under the poverty line in Estonia. Statistics Estonia reported in 2014 that 21.6 percent of people were considered impoverished and 6.3 percent lived in deep poverty. 8 percent of the poor are employed, and more of these individuals are female than male. In 2015, 21.3 percent lived in poverty and 3.9 percent in deep poverty, suggesting improvements in the distribution of wealth.
A lack of education is one of the causes of poverty in Estonia, and those who have received low levels of education have a 33 percent chance of living in poverty. The elderly are also at risk for an impoverished life. As of 2015, over 40 percent of individuals over 65 lived below the poverty line. These citizens are often dependent on pensions from the government.
The income inequality in Estonia has led to the segregation of cities, including its capital, Tallinn. The rich are moving to certain districts and the poor are living in others. This in itself is not inherently negative, aside from the fact that people are living in poverty, but can lead to conflict when the segregation extends to minority ethnic and racial groups.
While these figures on the causes of poverty in Estonia sound disheartening, the percentage of people living in relative and total poverty have actually decreased from previous years. As of 2014, the total income increased from the year before, and the gap between the rich and poor decreased. With increased foreign aid and governmental efforts to improve education and support for the poor elderly, the former USSR republic will be well on its way to eliminating the causes of poverty in Estonia.
– Julia McCartney