How are Ireland’s children and young people doing?

This section of our website provides "snap shots" of how children and young people in Ireland are doing.  We thematically present data on children and young people’s lives in relation to the Five National Outcomes for children and young people in alignment with Better Outcomes Brighter Futures the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014 – 2020.

One-third of Ireland’s population is under the age of 25.

According to preliminary data from the Central Statistics Office, the estimated total population of children and young people (aged 0-24) in Ireland is 1.54 million, or 33% of the total population. This is a 5.25% increase in population size since 2002. Fifty-one percent of 0 to 24 year olds are male and forty-nine percent are female (Central Statistics Office, 2015a).

Ireland’s population of children and young people is growing while other Western countries are experiencing reducing birth rates. The greatest growth is in the 0-4 age group which has seen an increase of 30% since 2002 (Central Statistics Office, 2015a). 

While most children and young people in Ireland are doing well overall and are happy and thriving the Growing Up in Ireland National Longitudinal Study of Children (Growing Up in Ireland 2011a) found that a significant minority of children - 15%-20% - were classified as showing significant levels of emotional or behavioural problems.

Similarly, while most children in Ireland are healthy, 25% of three-year-olds and 26% of nine-year-olds are overweight or obese (Growing Up in Ireland, 2011b/2011c) and the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Ireland Study 2010 found that 20.9% of school children in Ireland report going to school or bed hungry because there is not enough food at home.

While the national rate of second level school completion in Ireland is 90.56% (Department of Education and Skills, 2015) this rate is lower at 82.1% for young people attending DEIS* second level schools. Overall, second level school completion rates are increasing.

In August 2015 the Central Statistics Office Quarterly National Household Survey indicated that twenty-two per cent (22.4%) of young people aged 15 to 24 were unemployed while the national unemployment rate stood at 9.8% (Central Statistics Office 2015b). 

And while most children and young people are safe and supported, there are over 24,000 child welfare and 18,000 child abuse referrals annually to Tusla-Child and Family Agency (2015).

Children and Young People's Services Committees want all children and young people to achieve the national outcomes, not just the majority.

*The Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) initiative is an action plan for educational inclusion. DEIS focuses on addressing the educational needs of children and young people from disadvantaged communities throughout their school careers.

Click here for data sources and references.


Find out more about children and young people in Ireland by selecting one of these options:

Active and healthy - how healthy are our children and young people?

Achieving in learning - how are children and young people doing in education?

Safe and protected - are children and young people safe and secure?

Economic security - what about poverty or employment?

Participating in society - what do we know about diversity or children and young people's sense of belonging?


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