Quarter of population classified as deprived

Thu, Feb 14, 2013, 00:00

The percentage of the population classified as deprived reached almost one quarter in 2011, its highest level since the Central Statistics Office began compiling such data in 2004.

The 2011 figure represented an increase of almost two percentage points on 2010 and more than double the proportion recorded as deprived in 2007. Back in 2004 less than 15 per cent of the population was classified as deprived.

The deprivation rate is the percentage of respondents who say that they have been unable to afford, based on their income, to purchase two or more commonplace goods and/or services in the recent past.

Among the few positive trends to emerge in 2011, however, was a slight narrowing of the income gap between rich and poor, according to the CSO annual Survey on Income and Living published yesterday.

Of the 11 goods/services included in the deprivation index, the most common necessity which could not be afforded was furniture. Of total respondents, 22 per cent said they had been unable to afford to replace worn-out furniture.

Winter coat

The basic goods/service least frequently cited as unaffordable was a winter coat. Just over 2 per cent of respondents said they could not afford this item.

Single-parent households stood out as the most deprived in the survey, with 56 per cent classified as deprived.

The lowest deprivation rates by household types were recorded among those with two adults of which at least one adult was over 65 years of age. Of such households, one in 12 was deprived.

The deprivation numbers were also disaggregated according to people’s level of education. They show a clear relationship between educational attainment and deprivation.

While 11 per cent of those with the highest qualification (a third-level degree) were in this category in 2011, 28 per cent of those with the lowest level of attainment (primary education) suffered deprivation.

Continued decline

The figures published in the study included average weekly incomes of households. A continued decline was recorded in 2011, as the three components of net disposable income deteriorated over the year.

Compared with 2010, earned income and social welfare income both fell, while the burden of direct taxes rose.

The CSO did not give details of households by income group, but it did publish its most comprehensive measure of equality which showed an improvement in 2011 compared to 2011, although the organisation pointed out that the change was too small to be considered statistically significant.

The Gini coefficient – an index of 0 to 100, where a score of zero equates to all individuals earning identical incomes – showed that the distribution of income became more equal in 2011 compared to 2010.

Ireland’s 2011 index reading was average for the EU according to Europe-wide figures published by Eurostat.

The CSO also substantively revised its figures for 2010 after discovering an error. Income levels, inequality measures and the at-risk-of-poverty measures were all revised down.