More Dutch in long-term poverty despite shrinking wealth gap

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Despite a decrease in the wealth gap in the Netherlands, the number of households living in long-term poverty increased to 3.3 percent of households in 2015, Statistics Netherlands announced on Wednesday. In 2015 a total of 221 thousand households lived below the minimum income threshold for more than four years, 27 thousand more than in 2015.

The low income threshold is the minimum amount of income needed to achieve a level of consumption considered necessary in the Netherlands, according to Statistics Netherlands. In 2015 that was 1,030 euros for single people and 1,930 euros for couples with two children. Of the more than seven million Dutch households, 626 thousand live on an income below that limit. That is 8.8 percent of Dutch households. 

Single parents with minor children are especially at risk of poverty. They make up more than a quarter of the group living below the minimum income threshold. In 2015 a total of 320 thousand children lived in poverty - 125 thousand had been doing so for more than 4 years. 

Statistics Netherlands also announced that the average income and spending increased in 2015, the first time since the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008. The main reason for this is an increase in the value of homes. When private equity is taken out of the calculation, household wealth remained unchanged in 2015. 

The rise of house prices also caused a decrease in the wealth gap in the Netherlands. Low house prices relatively affect low-income households more than high income households, as wealthier households usually have more savings and securities and therefore more reserves. Nearly three in five households owned their homes in 2015. And homes accounted for 56 percent of the value of households' assets. 

Household spending also increased in 2015. Each household spent an average of 34 thousand euros in that year. Higher income households increased their spending more than lower income households. The average spending in the highest income group was 52 thousand euros, compared to 21 thousand euros in the lowest income group. 

About half of Dutch households had a mortgage in 2015. The average value was 162 thousand euros. Nearly a third of households also had other debts, an average of 1.4 thousand euros. Some 900 thousand households were paying study debts. 

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