Monitoring Poverty Trends in Ireland: Results from the 2000 Living in Ireland survey

07/08/2002

Monitoring Poverty Trends in Ireland: Results from the 2000 Living in Ireland survey

By Brian Nolan, Brenda Gannon, Richard Layte, Dorothy Watson, Christopher T. Whelan and James Williams

The ESRI’s study updates the picture of poverty in Ireland revealed by the Living in Ireland Survey carried out in 2000. The publication is the latest in a series monitoring living standards and assessing progress towards achieving the targets of the National Anti-Poverty Strategy. It describes trends in the extent of poverty, profiles those affected, and recommends how to monitor poverty in the future as living standards change.

  • Deprivation levels (measured by a variety of non-monetary indicators) continue to fall, e.g., in 2000 only 3% of respondents said they could not afford to buy new, rather than second-hand, clothes compared to 10% in 1994.
  • ‘Consistent’ poverty continued to decline. In 2000, only 6% were below 60% of mean income and experiencing basic deprivation compared with 15% in 1994.
  • The target of the National Anti-Poverty Strategy is now to bring the numbers of ‘consistently poor’ below 2 per cent and, if possible, eliminate it altogether.
  • The number below relative income thresholds, e.g. half of average income – have not been falling, in fact they were often higher in 2000 than in 1997 or 1994.
  • By 2000 unemployment had fallen sharply and there had been substantial real income growth, including growth in social welfare payments.
  • However, since social welfare levels did not rise as rapidly as income from work and property, more social welfare recipients in 2000 had fallen below thresholds linked to average income.
  • Those affected by illness or disability, and those aged 65 or over – many relying on social welfare – are particularly likely to be below relative income thresholds. This is of particular concern for the longer term, as growth slows down and societal expectations adjust to higher living standards.
  • The authors suggest broadening the scope of medium-term poverty targets, to include not only the number in consistent poverty but also the number below relative income thresholds. Taken together, these would capture both the contribution of growth in reducing deprivation and the long-term implications of widening gaps.
  • The study re-examines the construction of the consistent poverty measure. So far, eight basic deprivation items have been included, and up to 2000 they were still capturing what would be widely seen as generalised deprivation. However, in monitoring poverty looking forward it would be appropriate to include some additional items (such as being able to afford to replace worn-out furniture).

A Press Briefing will be held at the ESRI on Wednesday 7th August 2002 at 11.00 am. For further information contact:
Brian Nolan, Tel. 01-6671525, email brian.nolan@esri.ie 

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