Skip to main content
Reference budgets


The Measurement of Absolute Poverty in Europe

Commissioned by the European Commission


From until

Measure of poverty

This European pilot project aims to develop and test an absolute measure of poverty in Europe. This new indicator aims to complement and contextualise existing EU indicators. Moreover, this research aims to contribute to monitoring and supporting social policies and adequate minimum income protection in Europe.

ABSPO draws on two previous European projects (EU PP and ImPRovE) on comparable reference budgets in Europe. As these reference budgets were developed for specific type families, this project examines the possibility of extending them to the entire population. This is done through an exploration and comparison of different methodologies in a selection of three different member states (Belgium, Finland, Hungary).

Updating reference budgets

More specifically, the reference budgets that were similarly developed in EU projects in 2014-2015 are being updated again. Initially, the contents of the baskets nutrition, clothing, personal care, safe childhood, social relations, rest and relaxation will be adjusted and priced to match the social needs anno 2020. These baskets will also be expanded demographically (including young children aged 3 and pensioners) and regionally (in Belgium for Flanders and Brussels). Price differences between urban and rural areas are also included for the food basket (In Belgium for reference municipalities Etterbeek, Deurne, Bruges and Hooglede). Due to the high heterogeneity of individual needs, minimum expenditures on housing, health and mobility are modelled statistically.

Comparable results

All countries apply the same methodology so that results are comparable. Moreover, based on actual expenditure data and official national price data, alternative statistical techniques and pricing strategies are explored and applied. The project aims to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches and conduct some exploratory empirical analyses on absolute poverty and minimum income effectiveness. On this basis, they will formulate conclusions on the feasibility and applicability of absolute poverty measures in Europe and the implications for EU social policy. The ABSPO project will end in June 2021.

You can access the final report here



Ilse Cornelis

PhD in Psychology. Researcher on the topics of Financial Wellbeing and Reference Budgets, REMI.


Marieke Frederickx

Marieke studied commercial engineering at the KU Leuven and after her graduation she worked at various municipalities and public centers.

Research manager

Bérénice Storms

PhD in social sciences. Research manager Centre of Expertise Budget and Financial Well-being