Monitoring Poverty Trends in Ireland: Results from the 2001 Living in Ireland Survey


Monitoring Poverty Trends in Ireland: Results from the 2001 Living in Ireland Survey

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

The ESRI’s study updates our picture of poverty in Ireland using results from the Living in Ireland Survey carried out in 2001. 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.

Key findings are:

  • The proportion of persons on incomes under 50%, 60% and 70% of median income continued to increase (median income is the level below which half the population falls).
  • For these households, the depth of income poverty increased substantially between 1994 and 2001.
  • Increases in income poverty were particularly striking for older people, for the retired, those in home duties and the ill/disabled.
  • There was also an increase in the numbers persistently below such relative income thresholds.
  • However the proportion below income thresholds adjusted upwards over time only for inflation declined dramatically. This reflects the extent to which real incomes have increased over this period across the population. Despite these real increases, social welfare benefits did not rise as rapidly as income from work and property, so more social welfare recipients fell below thresholds linked to average income.
  • ‘Consistent’ poverty – low income combined with manifest deprivation – continued to decline so that by 2001 5% of households 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 study also looks at whether the set of deprivation items included in the measure of “consistent poverty” is still serving its intended purpose, of capturing what would be widely seen as generalized deprivation. An alternative index incorporating indicators that were not available when the original measure was developed is presented and recommended.
  • Poverty monitoring over the period to 2007 should take a broad focus, with attention paid to both relative income and consistent poverty with the amended set of indicators proposed.

A Press Briefing will be held at the ESRI on Tuesday 9th December 2003 at 11.00 am

For further information contact:

Richard Layte, ESRI, Tel. 01-6671525

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