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Half of Icelanders Still Struggle to Make Ends Meet, Poll Shows

Almost half of Icelandic households were pressed to make ends meet last year as the country continues to deal with the $85 billion banking industry failure of 2008, according to Statistics Iceland.

Of Iceland’s 123,900 households, 48.2 percent said it was difficult to pay for basic expenses, a drop from 51.5 percent a year earlier, according to the results of the European Survey of Income and Living Conditions, published on the statistics office website. Over the past 12 months, about 10 percent were in arrears on mortgage payments or other loans they had taken out, the survey showed.

Iceland is grappling with the aftermath of a 2008 banking crisis, when its largest lenders Kaupthing Bank hf, Glitnir Bank hf and Landsbanki Islands hf all collapsed within days. That sent the krona’s exchange rate to an 80 percent plunge against the euro in the offshore market. Iceland was forced to seek a $4.6 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund and impose capital controls to stop the currency slump.

“Households with the mean age of 30 to 39 years have the most financial difficulties,” the statistics office said. “The higher the mean age of adult household members, the less financial difficulties the households have.”

Housing cost was a heavy burden for about 27 percent of the north Atlantic island’s households and about 14 percent said that about payments of other loans. The usual budget wasn’t enough for about a third of households to meet an unexpected expense equivalent to 157,000 kronur ($1,298), the survey found.

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