Older people on low income lose more


Sir, – Your paper’s report on CSO’s EU-Survey of Income and Living Conditions report rightly highlighted the headline drop in earnings amongst older people (Breaking News, August 9th).

However, closer analysis reveals a far more disturbing trend highlighting the growing inequalities among older people in society. The report reveals that older people with the lowest incomes gained least in the last years of the Republic’s economic growth and they are now losing more than their colleagues on average incomes.

The report shows that the bottom fifth of people aged 65+ had incomes pitched at 53.2 per cent of the average in 2004 but this fell to 48.8 per cent in 2009 and fell again to 47 per cent in 2010. Compared with the best off older people, the poorest fifth fell from 26.2 per cent to 23.1 per cent over the six-year period covered by the statistics.

More importantly, the incomes of the poorest fifth of older people declined by 9.5 per cent in the latest year, from €209.41 to €189.56 per week. It might be imagined that older people on the lowest incomes would receive the largest amounts of money in social transfers, but this is not the case. In fact income from social transfers increased for better off households.

This closer analysis of the figures highlights the need for targeting social and income supports towards those least well off and shows the striking reliance of these groups on social transfers which are increasingly under pressure in budgetary reviews. It is imperative that all of the most vulnerable in society regardless of age should be protected in any spending reviews. – Yours, etc,


Strategic Research Officer,

The Centre for Ageing Research

and Development in Ireland


Redmond’s Hill,

Dublin 2.