One in three children deprived during recession, study says

ESRI research shows young adults have been hit hardest by rise in unemployment

Frances McGinnity, lead author of the report, said there were no clear ‘winners’ given that employment and living standards were  affected across the population. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Frances McGinnity, lead author of the report, said there were no clear ‘winners’ given that employment and living standards were affected across the population. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Wed, May 14, 2014, 10:21

Almost a third of children have been deprived of essentials such as food or clothing during the recession, according to a study published today.

The figures are contained in an ESRI report on the impact of the downturn on age groups, family types and nationalities over the past five years.

While job losses and reduced living standards affected the whole population, young people and children suffered some of the sharpest increases in deprivation.

Some 130,000 children (or 32 per cent of under-14s) experienced deprivation, which is measured as an ability to afford basics such as adequate heating or new clothes. The rate was lowest for over-65s (11 per cent).

The findings are likely to be seized on by campaigners who argue children have been exposed to the full force of the downturn – via welfare cuts and unemployment – rather than being sheltered from its effects.

Young people were hit harder by job losses, with unemployment rates climbing to almost 25 per cent among the under-25s. Those aged 45 and over suffered unemployment rates of up to 12 per cent.

Dr Frances McGinnity, lead author of the Winners and Losers? The Equality Impact of the Great Recession in Ireland report, said there were no clear winners given that employment and living standards were negatively affected across the population. However, she said it was clear some groups lost more than others.


Steepest rise
Cohabiting couples with children experienced the steepest rise in unemployment of any family grouping, while childless couples were far less likely to experience deprivation.

Poverty and deprivation increased less rapidly among groups such as lone parents and people with disabilities, although these were among the most disadvantaged groups before the downturn.

A separate ESRI report published today on the gender impact of the downturn shows men suffered more than women. While unemployment rates increased for both sexes, they were particularly dramatic for men, who were more likely to be in the worst-affected sectors such as construction.

The gap between the genders was 16 per cent before the downturn, and narrowed to 8 per cent in 2012.

Figures also show that in 2011 just under a third of non-Irish nationals experienced basic deprivation, compared with a quarter of Irish nationals.

The findings in the reports are drawn from a range of sources such as the Central Statistics Office and EU surveys on income and living conditions.