Number dependent on workers rises

Fri, May 25, 2012, 01:00

A SHARP rise in the youngest and oldest age brackets of the population has increased the number dependent on the working population and the State, census results released yesterday showed.

The “age dependency ratio” of children and older people to the working age population has increased from 45.8 per cent in 2006 to 49.3 per cent in 2011.

The population of preschool-aged children (0-4 years) rose by almost a fifth (18 per cent) in the past five years. This is a rapid rise as it is more than double the overall population growth of 8 per cent and tallies with the highest ever birth rate, in 2010.

The counties with the highest age dependency ratios – Meath, Laois and Cavan – are those with the fast-growing populations.

In Fingal, the preschool-aged population increased by 72.2 per cent since 2002. Fingal has the youngest population and a high number of people in the child-bearing age cohort of their 30s.

Such changes will have implications for school places. The Department of Education had recently adopted a “very proactive approach to school building”, in contrast with the old approach of last-minute prefabs, the Irish National Teachers Organisation said yesterday. In March, the department unveiled a five-year plan to build 106 primary schools.

The census also showed a sharp increase in the older population, with over-65s increasing by 14 per cent since 2006. The greatest growth in the older population, 38 per cent, was in Fingal.

More than a quarter of older people lived alone while about 31,000 lived in nursing homes or hospitals.

The results highlight “escalating” demand for health and social care services for older people, chief executive of Nursing Homes Ireland Tadhg Daly said.

He called on the Government to implement a strategy to meet rising demand in coming years.