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Description of the Situation

Latvian regulatory enactments define the notion of "needy person" [1] and "person with low income" [2] while the term "poverty" is not defined in Latvian legislation therefore when talking about poverty, social exclusion and social inclusion definitions of European Commission are applied.

According to criteria set forth by the European Commission poor persons are such persons whose income and resources (economic, social and cultural) are so restricted that their living standard is lower than commonly accepted in public and their basic rights are denied or restricted. Therefore poverty mainly includes the lack of material resources due to which a person cannot ensure the basic needs (food, housing, health, education, culture etc.)

Social exclusion is wider term than ''poverty'' - it is an inability of individuals or group of individuals to align with society due to poverty, insufficient education, unemployment, discrimination or other circumstances.  It means that socially excluded person cannot access services and goods, cannot exercise his/her rights and use opportunities since there are restrictive obstacles, for instance, inaccessible environment, social prejudice, emotional and physical violence, etc.

Sections of the population which are mostly subjected to the risk of social exclusion are sections of population the possibilities of which to gain sufficient income, to receive various services and goods vital for full-fledged functioning in society are denied or made difficult.

Social inclusion is a process the aim of which is to ensure opportunities, services and resources necessary for full-fledged participation in the economic, social and cultural life of the society to the persons subjected to the poverty and risk of social exclusion by improving their living standard and welfare as well as possibility of more intense involvement in decision making and access to person's basic rights.

Sections of population subjected to the risk of poverty and social exclusion in Latvia are as follows:

  • persons in the retirement age (especially women and pensioners living alone);
  • persons in pre-retirement age;
  • large families and partial families;
  • children;
  • disabled persons and persons with functional impairments;
  • unemployed persons (especially long-term unemployed persons)
  • homeless persons;
  • Roma people;
  • imprisoned persons and persons released from imprisonment;
  • victims of human trafficking;
  • persons addicted to psychoactive substances (alcohol, drugs, toxic or other intoxicating substances);
  • persons with knowledge and skills that are insufficient, low or inadequate for the labour market;
  • needy persons.

At-risk-of-poverty threshold and at-risk-of-poverty ratio are calculated according to the methodology elaborated by the Eurostat. In order to estimate and compare the situation regarding the social inclusion in EU member states monetary and income inequality ratios are applied [1] which are calculated by the Latvian Central Statistical Bureau (hereinafter referred to as CSB).

[1] Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers No. 299, adopted on 30.03.2010, "Regulations Regarding the Recognition of a Family or Person Living Separately as Needy".

[2] Section 6 of the Article 14 of the Law on On Assistance In Solving Apartment Matters.


The year of 2010 was announced in European Union a European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion on the basis of the Decision No 1098/2008/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2008 on the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion (year of 2010).

The objective and key principles of European Year (2010) is the recognition of the basic rights of persons living in poverty, shared responsibility of state establishments and civic society in order to achieve larger social cohesion and repeatedly expressed readiness to collectively combat poverty.