Ireland is one of the top five European countries on some social inclusion indicators but lags behind on some indicators for lone parents and people with disabilities

The Irish Government's Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2020–2025, published in 2020, outlines a framework to address poverty and promote social inclusion up to 2025. This plan encompasses diverse objectives spanning employment, education, housing, health, and income distribution. The Roadmap aims to make Ireland one of the top five performing EU countries on a range of social inclusion indicators. A new report — carried out as part of a programme between the Department of Social Protection and ESRI — provides an analysis of Ireland's advancement toward these social inclusion targets. 

Focusing on the ranking results, key findings of the research include:

  • Ireland ranked 11th out of the 27 EU countries on the monetary indicators in 2021, an improvement of three positions compared to 2018.
    • By 2021, Ireland reached its target for the in-work poverty measure (4th position) and was close to reaching the income inequality target (6th position).
    • However, it was ranked among the bottom five countries for the At Risk of Poverty or Social Exclusion (AROPE) for people with disabilities (24th position).
  • Ireland ranked 3rd out of the 27 EU countries on the non-monetary indicators in 2021, an improvement of three positions compared to 2018.
    • By 2021, Ireland reached its target for the housing cost overburden (1st position), the proportion of children aged three to 5 in formal childcare for between 1-29 hours per week (1st position), housing overcrowding (3rd position) and good subjective health (5th position).
    •  However, Ireland had the highest rate of very low work intensity (VLWI) households amongst EU member states.
  • Results were also mixed across vulnerable groups (lone parents; people with disabilities; children; and older people).
    • For lone parents, by 2021, Ireland was the 2nd best-performing country on the in-work AROP and housing overcrowding indicators, but it ranked last for the AROPE and VLWI indicators.
    • For people with disabilities, Ireland was in the top five best-performing countries for the housing cost overburden (1st), housing overcrowding (3rd) and subjective health indicators (5th) in 2021. However, it was in the bottom five on the VLWI (27th) and AROPE (24th) indicators, and near the bottom for the at-risk of poverty before and after social transfers (22nd and 20th, respectively) and severe material deprivation (22nd)

Changes in Ireland’s position are due in part to real changes in circumstances for the Irish population and in part to changes in other countries which affect the ranking without altering the living standards of those in Ireland. The report also highlights limitations in some of the indicators. These issues are examined in greater detail in the technical paper No. 11 by the same authors.

Bertrand Maître, an author of the report said:

“While Ireland is performing relatively well on the indicators for older people and children, the much weaker results for people with disabilities and lone parents highlight the imperative for additional support for these groups. Valuable insights can be drawn from countries such as Finland and the Czech Republic whose performance regarding the well-being of these specific groups is stronger.”

Minister Joe O’Brien TD, Minister with responsibility for Social Inclusion in the Department of Social Protection said:

“This report shows that, during the time period covered (2018-2021), Ireland’s ranking relative to other EU countries has improved both in terms of monetary and non-monetary indicators used within the Roadmap for Social Inclusion. While this is very encouraging to see, the analysis also shows that specific groups, such as people with disabilities and lone parents, remain more vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion and require further attention and action as we move towards achieving the Roadmap’s targets and ambitions.”