Economic Security

Below we present a range of data that provides "snap shots" of how children and young people in Ireland are doing in relation to National Outcome 4: Economic security and opportunity.

Child poverty

  • The largest increase in child poverty since 2008 has been in countries that have been hard hit by the recession.  Ireland is among the list of the bottom five countries in terms of negative changes in child poverty which rose by 10 to 20 points – an increase of over 50 per cent (UNICEF, 2014).
  • Ireland’s child poverty rate has increased by over 10% between 2008 and 2012 from 18% to 28.6% (UNICEF, 2014).
  • In 2013, 11.7% of children lived in consistent poverty [1], up from 9.3% in 2011 and 6.3% in 2008. (Central Statistics Office, 2015a).
  • 37.3% of children experienced basic deprivation in 2013, up from 32.3% in 2012. (Central Statistics Office, 2015a).
  • The at-risk-of-poverty rate for children has reduced from 18.8% to 17.9% after social transfers in 2013 (Central Statistics Office, 2015a).

Youth at risk

  • 40% of Irish young people aged 16-24 are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, increasing from 26% in 2007 (González Pandiella, 2013).
  • 53% of young people participating in youth work programmes and activities are said to be economically or socially disadvantaged (Indecon, Economic Value of Youth Work, 2012). 

Family poverty

  • 18% of children live in single-parent families (Department of Children and Youth Affairs, 2012).
  • 63% of one parent family households experience deprivation and 23% live in consistent poverty (Central Statistics Office, 2015a).
  • Within the Growing Up in Ireland National Longitudinal Study of Children, 25% of parents of 5-year-olds said they were making ends meet with ‘great difficulty’ or ‘with difficulty’. This compares to their response of 12% in 2008/09 when their child was 9 months old (Growing Up in Ireland, 2013).
  • 55% of one-parent families recorded difficulties in making ends meet at all three ages (9 months, 3 years and 5 years), compared to 29% of two-parent families (Growing Up in Ireland, 2013).
  • The percentage of families who ‘couldn’t afford’ or ‘cut back on basics’ increased from when the child was 3 (32%) to when he or she was 5 (43%). The percentage of families who were ‘behind with utility bills’ increased from 14% to 17% and the percentage ‘behind with rent/mortgage’ increased from 9% to 14% (Growing Up in Ireland, 2013). 

Food poverty

  • 20.9% of school children in Ireland report going to school or bed hungry because there is not enough food at home. This figure represents a slight increase from 16.6% in 2006 (Callaghan and the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Team, 2012).
  • More boys (22%) report that they go to school or bed hungry than girls (19%) (Callaghan and the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Team, 2012).
  • More children in the 10-11 year old age group report going to school or bed hungry at 26.8%, which is an increase from 18.3% in 2006 (Callaghan and the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Team, 2012). 

Employment / unemployment

  • 16% of children live in jobless households (Eurostat, EU Labour Force Survey, 2015).  In the period 2008-2012, the number of people aged 15-24 in employment fell by nearly 60%, accounting for over 210,000 of the overall reduction of 340,000 of people in employment (Department of Social Protection, 2014).
  • Youth unemployment (15-24 year olds) stands at 20.6% as at September 2015 (Central Statistics Office, 2015b).
  • Unemployment amongst 15 - 19 year olds stands at 30.7% and amongst 20-24 year olds at 19.9% (Central Statistics Office, 2015c).
  • The unemployment rate for those aged 20-24 with no more than lower secondary education has been over 50%, as compared with about 30% for those with higher secondary education and 20% for third-level graduates (Department of Social Protection, 2014).
  • In 2014, 15.2% of young people aged 15-24 are not in education, employment or training (Department of Social Protection, 2015). 

Impact of mother’s education level on household income

  • Within the Growing Up in Ireland Study, mothers with lower levels of education were the most likely to be ‘looking after the home/family’ and the least likely to be employed. This pertains to mothers of children aged 9 months, 3 years and 5 years (Growing Up in Ireland, 2013).
  • Family income was also strongly related to the mother’s education. Where the mother had left school with the Junior Certificate or less, 45% of the families were in the lowest income group and just 5% of these families were in the highest income group (Growing Up in Ireland, 2012). 
[1] Definitions and descriptions of consistent poverty, basic deprivation and at-risk-of-poverty, p.18-19. The State of Our Nation’s Children (2012) also provides a good overview of these terms.

Click here for data sources and references.


Find out more:

How healthy are our children and young people?

Want to find out more about how children and young people are doing in education?

Are children and young people in Ireland safe and secure?

What do we know about diversity and children and young people's sense of belonging within society


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