Relative Poverty Rates

Overview

The National Anti-Poverty Strategy (NAPS) offers the following definition of poverty:

“People are living in poverty, if their income and resources (material, cultural and social) are so inadequate as to preclude them from having a standard of living, which is regarded as acceptable by Irish society generally. As a result of inadequate income and resources people may be excluded and marginalised from participating in activities which are considered the norm for other people in society.”

At risk of Poverty/Relative Poverty

People or households are considered to be at risk of poverty when their income is less than a particular threshold. In the EU, the threshold has been set at 60% of the median income (mid-point in the scale of the highest to the lowest of all incomes in Ireland). Between 2008 and 2013, median disposable income for an individual dropped from €20,758 to €18,148 but began to increase again in 2014 and in 2015 reached €20,000 per annum.  This means that the 60% at risk of poverty threshold in 2015 was €12,000. (or €229.97 per week).

Whether those below the 60% threshold are actually experiencing poverty will depend on a number of factors. These include:

  • The degree to which income is below the relevant thresholds;
  • The length of time on this relatively low income – a long period can lead to real deprivation, as a person’s assets run down and cannot be fully maintained or replaced;
  • Possession and use of other assets, especially one’s own home.

 

At Risk of Poverty Statistics

  • The risk-of poverty level increased from 14.1% in 2009 to 17.3% in 2012 and in 2015 was 16.9%. This is more than 783,ooo people or almost one in six of the population.
  • Children (aged 0-17 years) were the most at risk age group in Ireland with an at-risk of poverty rate of 19.5% in 2015.
  • In 2015 the at risk of poverty rate for one parent households had risen to 36.2%, to 43.5% for houses headed by an unemployed person and 34.8% for those not in work due to illness or disability. This is the same as for single adults under 65 years of age. You were also at much higher risk if living in accommodation which you were renting at below the market value or rent free. This includes people living in social housing.
  • Social Transfers (e.g. state pensions, child benefit, Jobseekers and other social welfare payments) are very effective tools for reducing poverty. In 2015 the at risk of poverty rate would have been 46.3% without social transfers.

 

Poverty and Socio-Demographic Characteristics

While prior to the crisis overall at-risk of poverty rates had been consistently decreasing, between 2009 and 2012 these figures increased from 14.1% to 17.3%.  It fell to 16.5% in 2013, rose to 17.2% in 2014 and was at 16.9% in 2015. Consistent poverty rose from 4.2% in 2008 to 9.1% in 2013 before falling to 8.7% in 2015. Material deprivation increased from 13.7% in 2008 to a shocking 30.5% of households in 2013 but has fallen to 25.5% in 2015. Household composition and socio-demographic characteristics, however, maintained a very significant influence on the risk of poverty. The Central Statistics Office  has devised a series of indicators that are considered significant in determining whether a person is at risk of poverty such as age, employment status, number of dependents, level of education and tenure status. It does not cover some groups such as ethnic minorities, including Travellers or people with disabilities as a specific group.

In 2015 the at risk of poverty rates for people living in rural areas, single parent households, children and those who were unemployed, including because of illness or disability, people with low levels of education and people renting at below the market rate remained consistently high.

At Risk of Poverty Rate by Household Composition

Household Composition

At Risk of Poverty Rate 2008%

At Risk of Poverty Rate 2015%

1 adult aged 65+

11.0

14.7

1 adult aged <65

25.7

34.8

2 adults, at least 1 aged 65+

10.0

9.6

2 adults, both aged <65

14.2

11.7

3 or more adults

8.7

14.1

1 adult with children aged under 18

36.4

36.2

2 adults with 1-3 children aged under 18

11.0

14.5

Other households with children

16.0

21.9

 

Poverty Rates by Demographic Characteristics and Year

At Risk of Poverty Rate 2008 %

At Risk of Poverty Rate 2015 %

Sex
Male

14.0

16.9

Female

14.9

16.9

Age Group
0 – 17

18.0

19.5

18 – 64

13.5

17.1

65+

11.1

10.7

Principal Economic Status (aged 16 years and over)
At Work

6.7

5.8

Unemployed

23.0

43.5

Student

23.4

32.0

Home Duties

21.7

24.9

Retired

10.8

12.7

Not at Work due to Illness or Disability

25.5

34.8

Highest education level attained (aged 16 years and over)
Primary or Below

22.3

23.1

Lower Secondary

16.7

23.7

Higher Secondary

12.6

19.4

Post Leaving Cert

10.7

16.0

Third Level Non-Degree

4.9

9.4

Third Level Degree or Above

5.5

5.6

Numbers of People at Work
0

32.7

39.6

1

15.7

19.1

2

5.1

2.7

3+

4.2

0.5

Tenure Status
Owner Occupied

11.4

11.0

Rented at the market rate

11.7

22.2

Rented at below the market rate or rent free

29.6

39.0

Urban/rural location
Urban areas

11.9

16.3

Rural areas 18.7

18.2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full document available on the Central Statistics Office website: www.cso.ie