In 2021 about a quarter of households in Iceland had difficulties in making ends meet. Approximately 19% of households in rented housing assessed the financial burden of their housing cost to be heavy in 2021 which is similar to 2020. During the same period, the financial burden of housing cost for owners was reduced from approximately 14% to roughly 10%. In 2021, just over 4% of households suffered material deprivation, thereof little less than 11% of households on the rental market but only 2.4% of households living in the own house.

Around 22% of the households in Iceland lived in rented housing in 2021. The percentage of households on the rental market was around 28% in 2011 and 2012 and approximately 31% in 2017 and 2018. Since then the percentage has been getting lower.

These are among the preliminary results from the Statistics Iceland’s Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC).

Percentage of households having difficulties in making ends meet never lower
In general, 24.1% of Icelandic households had a difficulty in making ends meet in 2021 according to new preliminary figures. Never before has the percentage of household having difficulties in making ends meet been so low. These figures correspond somewhat to figures previously published by Statistics Iceland on household’s gross disposable income which increased during the same period. In comparison, 51% of households had difficulties in making ends meet in 2011 and the percentage was above 40% between 2010 and 2015.

About half of household with a single adult and with one or more dependent children had difficulties in making ends meet in 2021 but 16% of households with two or more adults with no children. These results indicate that the number of working adults reduce difficulties in making ends meet while the number of dependent children increases these difficulties.

Housing burden higher for tenants
The survey includes a question on the financial burden of housing including installments of housing mortgages, rent, insurance, real estate taxes, maintenance, and repairs and if this burden is heavy, some or none.

During 2010-2015 a higher percentage of owners regarded their housing burden heavy compared with tenants. Since then the percentage of households with a heavy housing burden has been higher among tenants. In 2020 and 2021 the percentage of households renting with a heavy housing burden stood still at 19%. According to the index of rent cost (which is published by the Housing and Construction Authority) there is a discernable change in the trend of the index during the same time period which further supports these results. During the same period the assessed burden of owners decreased from 14.2% to 9.7%.

Material deprivation rare for households living in their own house
It is rare for households living in their own house to suffer from material deprivation with the rate being between 2.1% and 4.0% in the period between 2016 and 2021. The rate was higher for households renting or between 10.6 and 17.2%, highest in 2016. Severe lack of material deprivation is hardly measured for households living in their own housing and the figures have been trending downwards. In total, 2.5% of households renting suffered from severe material deprivation in 2021.

According to the survey, a household is considered to suffer from material deprivation if it cannot afford three or more of the following items:

  • To pay their rent, mortgage, or utility bills.
  • To keep their home adequately warm.
  • To face unexpected expenses.
  • To eat meat or proteins regularly.
  • To go on a holiday.
  • A television set.
  • A washing machine.
  • A car.
  • A telephone.
If a household cannot afford four or more of the items it is considered to suffer from severe material deprivation.

About the data
The results are based on the Icelandic Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC). The survey is a longitudinal study where approximately five thousand households are contacted each year. Further information is available in the metadata. Results for 2019 – 2021 are preliminary. This means that the figures have been calculated based on the raw data of the survey and trying to get as close to the final variables as possible. The final results will be published when the datasets for the years have been validated in cooperation with Eurostat. The weights of the Icelandic SILC were revised and changed for the data collection of the year 2017. This creates a break in the time series for the estimated number of households in Iceland. It is therefore not advised to compare counts of households before and after the break.

Statistics