Goal 1: No Poverty

Measuring progress in the Nordic countries

Work in progress: This page is under active development.

This page looks at the progress made by the Nordic countries towards Sustainable Development Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

Each section starts by analysing global and regional trends, before looking at the latest data on the Nordic countries and their progress towards the 2030 targets. The data presented is gathered from the UN Sustainable Development Goals Global Database, unless otherwise noted.

The assessment of the Nordic countries is based on a recent OECD report analysing progress made towards the SDGs in all OECD-countries. The report provides a unique methodology for comparing progress across OECD-countries, tracking recent trends as well as estimating each country’s likelihood of reaching the 2030 targets.

Overview of targets

SDG Goal 1 consist of 7 targets. Click on the targets below to start exploring the data:

Target 1.1

By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day.

Indicators:

1.1.1Proportion of the population living below the international poverty line

Global trends

Extreme poverty is defined as living below the global poverty line, currently set at $1.90 per day (updated in 2015 from $1.25).

Over the past decades the share of people living in extreme poverty has declined. In 2018 8.6% of the world’s population, about 656 million people, lived in extreme poverty according to the latest data from the World Bank.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the progress made and the World Bank has estimated that extreme poverty will rise for the first time in a generation in 2020.

In 2021 and 2022 the situation has been further compounded with rising inflation and the effects of the war in Ukraine impacting global poverty rates. The World Bank estimates that in 2022 an additional 75 to 95 million more into poverty compared to the pre-pandemic trend.

The latest estimates by the United Nations (UN) projects that the poverty rate will decline to 7% by 2030, which would mean that around 600 million people still will live in extreme poverty in 2030.

Extreme poverty is most prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa, with almost 40 % of the population living in extreme poverty in 2018. According to the World Bank by 2030 "Sub-Saharan Africa will be home to the lion's share of the world’s poor, and the global poverty goal can only come within reach if poverty is reduced in the African continent."

Note that the regional groupings used in the visualisation above (and all other visualisations on this page with regional data) follows the UN regional classification for the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Nordics

Extreme poverty is virtually non-existent in the Nordic countries. The latest SDG data estimates that the extreme poverty rate is at 0.3% or lower in all Nordic countries. This means all of the Nordic countries have already achieved the target for 2030.

Target 1.2

By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions

Indicators:

1.2.1Proportion of population living below the national poverty line
1.2.2Proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions

The Nordics

The SDG Goal 1 of ending poverty goes beyond the target of ending extreme poverty and sets a target of halving the share of people living in poverty as set by national definitions. This target thus has more relevance for the Nordic countries.

To ensure cross-country comparability, the OECD uses two indicators to assess progress in OECD countries towards this target:

  • a measure of relative income poverty
  • a measure of multidimensional poverty

A. Relative income poverty

The relative income poverty rate is defined as the share of people whose income falls below a poverty line set at half the median household income of the total population.

Data from the OECD shows that the relative income poverty rate has increased in most of the Nordic countries. The latest data (2017-2019) shows that it is highest in Sweden (9%) and lowest in Iceland (5%).

B. Multidimensional poverty

The measure of multidimensional poverty for the Nordic countries follows EU standards and is calculated by EUROSTAT based on a concept of "people at risk of poverty or social exclusion". This comprises people who are:

  • at risk of poverty
  • severely materially deprived
  • living in a household with a very low work intensity

Data for this measure shows that multidimensional poverty rates in most of the Nordic countries have remained relatively stable over the last decades.

Looking at the two measurements of target 1.2 combined, none of the Nordic countries are not making enough progress to be able to halve the share of the population living in poverty in all its dimensions by 2030.

The above trend is in line with the situation in other OECD countries. As highlighted in the OECDs assessment: "no OECD country is expected to make enough progress to reach the target levels by 2030 on both indicators."

Target 1.3

Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable

Indicators:

1.3.1Proportion of population covered by social protection floors/systems

Global trends

This target addresses social protection systems and the importance of widening coverage given their key role in reducing and preventing poverty.

Globally, 47% of the world population are covered by at least one social protection benefit. In Sub-Saharan Africa, where poverty is most prevalent, only 14% are covered.

Although many countries implemented new social protection measures as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, almost all of them (95%) where temporary according to the UN. This shows that there is a wide gap to be closed over the next decade to reach the 2030 target.

The Nordics

Measurement of progress towards this target includes the following:

  • Proportion of population covered by at least one social protection cash benefit
  • Proportion of children covered by social protection benefits
  • Proportion of women giving birth covered by maternity benefits
  • Proportion of persons with disabilities receiving benefits
  • Proportion of unemployed receiving benefits
  • Proportion of workers covered in case of employment injury
  • Proportion of older persons receiving a pension
  • Proportion of vulnerable persons receiving benefits
  • Proportion of poor population receiving social assistance cash benefit

In addition to these, the OECD includes a measure of recipients of secondary out-of-work benefits (safety nets) as a percentage of the poor working-age population, when gauging progress made by OECD countries towards the 2030 targets.

The Nordic countries have a high level of social protection coverage compared to other countries. For most groups, coverage rates are at 100%. There are some important exceptions to this, notably for unemployment benefits and social assistance cash benefit to vulnerable groups. In addition, most Nordic countries, apart from Finland, have provide lower levels of out-of-work benefits to those who are not entitled to regular unemployment benefits.

When looking at the total coverage of the Nordic countries, the OECD pays weight to the above mentioned coverage gaps, which for Norway, Iceland and Sweden means a combined assessment of "No progress or moving away from the SDG target".

Target 1.4

By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance

Indicators:

1.4.1Proportion of population living in households with access to basic services
1.4.2Proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions

Global trends

Access to basic services are a crucial part of efforts to alleviate poverty. The aspects of basic services covered by target 1.4 is the proportion of people using basic drinking water services and basic sanitation services. Global progress has been made in both those areas over the last decades in increasing access.

Even though water access has increased, in 2020 some 771 million were without basic access to water services, half of which live in sub-Saharan Africa. A larger number, 1.7 billion, were without even basic sanitation. According to the UN, "achieving universal access to safely managed sanitation by 2030 will require a quadrupling of current rates of progress."

The target of access to basic services also encompasses peoples’ land and property rights. This is measured by the proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, (a) with legally recognized documentation, and (b) who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and type of tenure. As of June 2021, 34 countries had reported data on this target, which is set to be further developed in 2022.

The Nordics

As with other high-income countries, access to basic services is well developed and near universal in the Nordic countries. The combined assessment by the OECD for this indicator is therefore that this target has already been achieved in all Nordic countries.

Target 1.5

By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters

Indicators:

1.5.1Number of deaths, missing persons and directly affected persons attributed to disasters per 100,000 population
1.5.2Direct economic loss attributed to disasters in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP)
1.5.3Number of countries that adopt and implement national disaster risk reduction strategies in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030
1.5.4Proportion of local governments that adopt and implement local disaster risk reduction strategies in line with national disaster risk reduction strategies

Global trends

The poorest are often the most vulnerable when facing shocks and disasters. Building resilience to such events is therefore an important part of the efforts to end poverty.

Target 1.5 measures progress both by looking at human and economic costs of disasters, as well as by countries adoption of disaster risk reduction strategies at a national and local level.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe effect on the disaster-mortality rate, reversing the progress made from 2015 to 2019 in decreasing the distaster-mortality rate.

In 2020, a total of 80 countries reported near 300 000 deaths caused by disasters, of which the pandemic COVID-19 related. This figure is, according to the UN, significantly underreporting deaths caused by the pandemic, with the World Health Organization estimating 4.5 million excess deaths caused by tthe pandemic at the end of 2020.

In terms of risk reduction strategies, as of 2021, 123 countries had implemented national disaster risk reduction strategies under the Sendai Framework. 97 of these countries had done so at both the national and local level.

The Nordics

Data on the Nordic countries for this target is sparse. However, with regards to risk reduction strategies, only Finland and Norway have implemented such strategies in accordance with the Sendai Framework.

Norway has a score of 0.98 for its level of implementation (0.0 lowest - 1.0 highest) with Finland at 0.75. In Finland 100% of all local governments have implemented local strategies in line with the national strategy, with 98% of all local governments in Norway doing so.

The OECD provides no assessment for the Nordic countries on target 1.5.

Target 1.a

Ensure significant mobilization of resources from a variety of sources, including through enhanced development cooperation, in order to provide adequate and predictable means for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, to implement programmes and policies to end poverty in all its dimensions

Indicators:

1.a.1Total official development assistance grants from all donors that focus on poverty reduction as a share of the recipient country’s gross national income
1.a.2Proportion of total government spending on essential services (education, health and social protection)

Global trends

This target has both a domestic and international component. Domestically, it looks at the proportion of total government spending going to essential services, including education, health and social protection. Internationally, it looks at the the share of development assistance that focus on poverty reduction (as share of recipient country's gross national income).

These two aspects are difficult to measure in terms of performance, and there are no set benchmarks set towards 2030. In its annual report on progress, the UN notes the following:

Only 30 per cent of all countries and territories with data for the period 2015 – 2018 spent between 15 and 20 per cent of total government expenditure on education, as recommended in the Framework for Action for the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 4.

Total ODA grants for basic social services and development food aid, which are intended for poverty reduction, represented 0.02 per cent of the gross national income of donors to the Development Assistance Committee in 2019.

Note that development assistance is referred to in terms of donors gross national income.

The Nordics

Data on the Nordic countries exists on development assistance, however, the data measures it against donor country's gross national income (GNI), as opposed to recipient. Nevertheless, such data can shed light on the "poverty component" as part of a country's overall development assistance. The data does not give a clear picture in terms of trends over time. In 2020, Norway contributions to poverty reduction as part of development assistance was 0.15% of GNI, an increase from 0.03% in 2000. All the Nordic countries, with the exception of Finland, had a higher share of grants to poverty reduction than the global average of 0.02%.

In terms of the domestic component, government spending on essential services, all the Nordic countries lie at around a share of two thirds of total government spending. This is inline with the OECD average (64% in 2019).

In total, the OECD provides no combined assessment for the Nordic countries on target 1.a.

Target 1.b

Create sound policy frameworks at the national, regional and international levels, based on pro-poor and gender-sensitive development strategies, to support accelerated investment in poverty eradication actions

Indicators:

1.b.1Pro-poor public social spending

As with target 1.a, there is no set benchmark to gauge performance of this target and data is sparse. This target is set to be further developed by UNICEF. As such, there is no data or assessment of the Nordic countries for this target readily available at the present time.

About the data

The data presented on global, regional and national trends are from the UN SDG Global Database and the OECD unless otherwise stated.

The assessment on the Nordic countries is based on the findings from a recent OECD report, published in April 2022. The OECD uses a three-tier classification for each target:

  • Target is achieved or on track to being achieved
  • Progress has been made, but is insufficient to meet the target
  • No progress or moving away from the SDG target

Note that the OECD methodology uses the current status on a target and calculates a likely trend towards 2030 based on recent progress. Thus, a country which is close to a target, but trending away from it, will be classified as "No progress or moving away from the SDG target". Conversely, a country which is currently further away from the target, but trending towards it (and has a high likelihood of reaching it before 2030), will be classified as "Target is achieved or on track to being achieved".

Changelog

  • Pilot release 27 May 2022
  • Layout update 6 June 2022

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