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How much poverty is there in Norway?

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
How much poverty is there in Norway?
Have you ever wondered how much poverty there is in Norway? Pictured is a street in Oslo. Photo by Gunnar Ridderström on Unsplash

Despite the country's reputation for its wealthy residents, food banks in Norway have reported increased use. So, how much poverty is there in Norway? 


The number of people using centres that distribute free food to those in need is rising, Norwegian newspaper VG reports. 

Food Banks Norway (Matsentralen Norge) has said that it has distributed 32 percent more food this year and that queues are now being seen at centres all over the country. 

“In the last year, with increased electricity prices, war in Ukraine, more expensive petrol and diesel and increased food prices, we have experienced a very large increase. The organisations come to us and collect food. We are struggling to get protein-rich dinner food for everyone who needs it and have to distribute it among those who pick it up. It is hard for them,” Anne Merete Pedersen from the Food Banks Norway in Rogaland County told the paper. 


Typically, Norway is known for its steady economy, large wages and high standard of living, so to many, it may seem surprising that the use of food banks is on the up- even with the cost of living soaring across Europe. 

So, how much poverty is there in the Nordic country known for its wealthy residents? 

Poverty can be hard to pin down, especially in a country known for such high salaries. Therefore the best metric to measure poverty in Norway would be relative poverty. Relative poverty is measured in relation to the majority of the population in a country. One who is significantly worse off than most people in a nation can be considered to be in relative poverty.

According to estimates from the UN, around 10 percent of the population in Norway lives below the relative poverty line. This is defined as those who earn less than 60 percent of the median income. Norway’s median income is around 45,830 kroner per month, according to Statistics Norway. 

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Based on those numbers, those with incomes of less than 27,498 kroner can be considered to be in relative poverty. This figure may seem high compared to the poverty level in other countries, but Food Banks Norway writes that those in poverty in Norway still face adverse effects. 

“Poverty in Norway is not life-threatening, but you are at risk of both malnutrition and psychological problems,” it writes on its website. 


Furthermore, relative poverty also means not having access to the same standard of living as the rest of society due to their economic situation. 

For example, 4.5 percent of people in Norway can’t afford to replace ruined or worn-out clothing, while 3.6 percent of those over 16 would have difficulty paying for a dentist, according to Statistics Norway.  

Who is most likely to be in poverty in Norway

Refugees and immigrants with a non-western background are those most likely to be in relative poverty, according to Food Banks Norway

In 2021, a report from Statistics Norway also found that the number of children from low-income households was increasing. The report found that one in ten children lived in a household with a persistently low income. A persistently low income was a household that earned below the national median income for three years. 

Approximately half of these children from persistently low-income households were also from an immigrant background. 

Is poverty on the rise in Norway? 

Statistics Norway’s figures indicate that the number of children growing up in relative poverty is on the up. 

People in Norway are also feeling the squeeze due to rising inflation and energy prices. A report from the analysis institute Consumption Research Norway (SIFO) at Oslo Metropolitan University concludes that one in three homes in Norway have worse finances now than they did in January this year.

The ability to pay bills, interests and loan repayments is meanwhile cited as a problem for one in four of all households.

This is all in addition to the increased use of food banks in Norway. 


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