Over half of Albanians were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2020, the highest percentage in Europe according to the European Institute of Statistics (EUROSTAT).
Looking at data from EU member states, EEA, and Western Balkan countries, Albania performed worst with 51% of the population at risk. The second was Montenegro with around 40%, followed by Turkey with 38%, and North Macedonia with approximately 35%.
For comparison, the European average is 21.9% of the population, equivalent to 96.5 million people.
EUROSTAT defines those at risk of poverty as households that face severe material and social deprivation, cannot afford a set of predefined material items or social activities, or have a very low household work intensity.
Across the continent, women, young adults, and those with a low level of education were most likely to be considered at risk. Concerningly, those under 18 and those aged between 18-24 were most at risk.
While Albania performed worst overall, the most problematic EU member states were Romania with around 35% and Bulgaria with a similar level. Latvia also had a high rate for families without dependent children.
The minimum wage in Albania is EUR 242.50 per month net, but many work for less in the large informal economy. The average salary is reported to be around EUR 460 per month before. The unemployment rate is around 12% as of March 2021.
In 2018, INSTAT, Albania’s state statistics agency reported the at-risk of poverty rate was just 23.4%. If this is correct, the number of those at risk could have more than doubled in just three years.