Albanian families face economic hardships
TIRANA, July 10- Almost one-third of Albanian households were unable to meet basic food and clothing needs during 2018, according to a poll conducted by the Balkan Barometer 2019 which is a project of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC). Albania has the highest percentage of households who can not afford basic living, nearly double the Balkans.
The Albanian family sample was asked whether they faced (at least once) over the past 12 months any problematics related to affording food, clothing, and other basic supplies. 31 percent of households admitted that at least once they were not able to afford and provide food, clothing, or other supplies during 2018. This percentage was almost twice Serbia’s 17 percent, which ranks second after Albania for the high level of households that do not meet the basic living necessities.
The percentage is lower in the other countries in the region. In Kosovo and Montenegro only 14 percent of families claimed to have had difficulties to meet their basic needs over the past 12 months. The lowest level of families in poverty appears to have been in Bosnia and Herzegovina where only 8 percent of families have claimed difficulties for basic supply. Second ranks North Macedonia with 13 percent of families facing this difficulty.
The percentage of households that did not meet the basic needs increased further during 2018 compared to 2017, when 25 percent of households had claimed difficulties with basic necessities. Other data on consumer spending also show the sad reality where most Albanian households spend more on food than neighbouring countries, an indicator of low incomes compared to purchasing power.
In the Western Balkans most household spending goes to provide food. However, by making a comparison between them, food costs are much higher in Albania with over 44 percent of monthly expenditure, according to the Albanian Institute of Statistics (INSTAT). According to Eurostat data, after Albania in terms of food costs comes North Macedonia is the country where food expenditures are higher with about 36.8 percent of the total spending carried, followed by Kosovo with 34.1 percent.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, food expenditures account for almost a quarter of total spending, with a weight of 24.5 percent and 24.3 percent respectively. Among the countries in the region, Serbia has the lowest share for this group with about 17.3 percent of the total, while EU’s average spending on food is about 12 percent.