The associated publications are linked at the end of this page.
Growing Up in Ireland today (8 November 2018) publishes a series of four Key Findings – short reports on the lives of 9-year-olds and how they are faring in important areas of their lives and how their lives have changed since the children were 5 years of age. These reports are being launched by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, TD, at the 10th Annual Growing Up in Ireland Research Conference.
Nine years of age is a relatively stable time in the children’s lives. They have settled into primary school and are not yet subject to the pressures of exams that come with their move to second level. However, this group of 9-year-olds spent many of their early years in a period of great economic uncertainty, when Ireland was in the depths of the Great Recession. These reports will help to inform policymakers and others involved in providing services for children and their families on how they are faring and how best to assist and support them.
These Key Findings reports analyse the data from the 7,563 children and families that participated in the Growing Up in Ireland survey at 9 months old (in 2008-09), at 3 years, 5 years and 9 years (in 2017/18).
Growing Up in Ireland (GUI) is the national longitudinal study of children. It is funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, with a contribution from The Atlantic Philanthropies. The study is managed and overseen by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in association with the Central Statistics Office. It is carried out by a consortium of researchers led by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and Trinity College Dublin.
Big improvement since 2013 in ability of families to make ends meet – but the rising tide is not lifting all equally
Most parents report high levels of closeness with their children
Grandparents were an important part of family life for most 9-year-olds
9-year-olds generally had positive attitudes to school and school subjects such as Reading
There has been a drop in reading for fun since 2007 among children in low-income families
Over half of mothers of 9-year-olds paid a voluntary contribution to their child’s primary school
Over one-fifth of parents had already put their child’s name down for a second level school
One-in-eight 9-year-olds were hampered by a longstanding health condition or disability
Diet was generally healthy but with a relatively high consumption of some treat foods
 Department of Health, Healthy Food for Life – the Healthy Eating Guidelines and Food Pyramid, Department of Health, 2016.
Only one-quarter of 9-year-olds reached the recommended level of physical activity
Emotional and behavioural difficulties often improve over time
Experiencing several stressful life events increased the risk of emotional difficulties
The Key Findings reports point to an overall positive picture of children’s development at 9 years of age in terms of health, learning and their relationships with parents and grandparents. Nevertheless, there are some areas of concern, such as the low rate of meeting the physical activity targets, evidence of significant inequalities (poorer outcomes for children in socially-disadvantaged families), and a tendency for negative outcomes (including emotional difficulties) to persist in a child’s life. The Key Findings point to the value of the Growing Up in Ireland project to increasing our understanding of the lives of children in order to develop better policies to promote their well-being.
“These new findings from the latest round of Growing Up in Ireland, from data collected in 2017, provide important insights into the lives of 9 year olds. They also provide us with direct access to the voice of the child.
While most 9 year olds are doing well there are also areas of concern which will require action. The evidence of inequalities, with some children from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds doing less well in a number of areas, does require attention.
As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, ensuring equality of opportunity is my priority. This must apply to every child. Early intervention and prevention and a whole of Government approach are needed to tackle child poverty. I am committed to building on the work already underway.
These latest findings also demonstrates the breadth of data collected as part of the GUI study and the many opportunities for further research in key domains such as health, education, relationships and family. Such evidence will help us make decisions, informed with the views of children, into the future.”
The ESRI works towards a national vision of ‘Informed policy for a better Ireland’. This means producing high-quality analysis to provide robust evidence for policymaking, with the goals of research excellence and policy impact.
The ESRI produces research that contributes to understanding economic and social change in the new international context and that informs public policymaking and civil society in Ireland.