ESRI Newsletter June 2022

Dear Reader,

We began the month of June with our annual Budget Perspectives 2022 conference which is always accompanied by several reports discussing policy issues related to the Budget. This year we looked at expanding the framework of equality budgeting to encompass households affected by disability. Our researchers also explored the economic case for linking Jobseeker's Benefit to previous earnings of the recently unemployed. The final paper in the series looked at the relationship between employment status and health, and how public health coverage and private health coverage differ across occupations.

Later in the month, the report Disrupted transitions? Young adults and the COVID-19 pandemic, which was produced in partnership with the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY), showed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health among young adults. The findings were quite stark - four-in-ten 22-year-old men and over half of 22-year-old women were classified as depressed. Two years previously, survey results indicated that 22 per cent of men and 31 per cent of women were classified as depressed.

Every June sees the publication of the summer Quarterly Economic Commentary. Growth is set to continue this year, thanks to strong exports. But a further increase of inflation, averaging 7.1 per cent in 2022, is to be expected with the war in Ukraine disrupting food and energy markets.

Amid such findings, the report Energy poverty and deprivation in Ireland estimated the share of households in energy poverty to be 29 per cent, outstripping the previously recorded high of 23 per cent in 1994/95. Funded by the Community Foundation for Ireland, this report points to solutions such as increases to welfare payments, the fuel allowance, and lump-sum payments to best target those most affected by energy inflation.

Headline Poverty Target Reduction in Ireland and the Role of Work and Social Welfare, which was commissioned by the Department of Social Protection, also includes policy proposals – this time focusing on how to achieve the national consistent poverty target of 2 per cent by 2025. Increasing female labour force participation and spending more on benefits targeting children are just some of the means by which such a target could be reached.

If you were wondering if we had any cheerful news this month, I recommend reading our short Research Bulletin Quality-of-life and risk of loneliness among older people with varying digital technology engagement. In a possible retort to admonishments about screen time, we find that quality-of-life is higher among older people who use the internet.

Before signing off, I want to extend my thanks and good wishes to my colleague Maev-Ann Wren who retired this month. As the joint Research Area Co-ordinator for Health and Quality of Life research, Maev-Ann spearheaded incredible work at the Institute since she joined in 2013. We are so proud to have been one chapter in a multifaceted and compelling career and we wish her the best.


Professor Alan Barrett