Under-45s hit ‘dramatically’ harder by recession, ESRI finds

Study finds younger people worst afflicted by unemployment, mortgage debt and negative equity up to 2010

Those aged under 45 have been affected “dramatically” more by the property crash and recession than those 45 and over, according to a new research paper published yesterday by the Economic and Social Research Institute, a Dublin-based think tank.

When comparing a range of indicators over the half-decade to 2009/2010, the report described the contrast between the fortunes of the two groups as “striking”.

Among the starkest contrasts between the under-45s and those over that age was how their weekly spending patterns changed.

The younger age group on average spent 20 per cent less per week in 2009/2010 compared with five years earlier. Over the same period, those aged over 45 managed to keep most of their bubble-era gains, spending 31 per cent more each week than they did in 2004/2005.


The figures are adjusted to take account of the effects of inflation on spending power.

By all metrics analysed in the paper, including unemployment, mortgage arrears and negative equity, younger people have suffered far more than older groups.

The author of the paper, Prof Petra Gerlach-Kristen, described the impact of the crash on younger groups as “large, both by international standards and in a historical comparison”.

Regional disparity
A separate report published this morning by the National Economic and Social Council makes similar findings, noting that young people have been hardest hit by the jobs crisis. It says there is a high level of regional disparity in youth unemployment.

"Youth unemployment varies by county, with the highest rates in Limerick city (50 per cent), Donegal (49 per cent) and Wexford (47 per cent). It was lowest in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, at 27 per cent, followed by Fingal, Cork county, Galway city and Dublin city," it says.

The NESC, which advises the Government, says in its report on the wider social dimensions of the crisis that a succession of harsh budgets have hit double-income parents more than social welfare recipients and State pensioners.

“The changes have impacted most on families with children,” it says in reference to cutbacks in the budgets between 2008 and 2012.

The losses from budgetary policy were highest for earning couples with children, at more than 11 per cent. This data takes account of cuts in public sector pay but does not embrace private sector pay cuts.

“In general, family types dependent on welfare experienced smaller losses of 2 to 7 per cent,” the report says.

Commuter belt
Citing work by social inclusion group Pobal, the council finds that the periphery of the Dublin commuter belt has been hardest hit by job losses, emigration and the legacy of unfinished "ghost" estates.

The NESC also says traditionally deprived parts of Dublin, Cork and Limerick remain relatively deprived, with high unemployment and low levels of education.

It notes that parts of rural Ireland such as Donegal and Mayo show up as very deprived and suffer from "high dependency", as many people of working age have left to find work and there is a lack of infrastructure.

The report says unemployment and the demand for local authority housing has “substantially increased” in parts of Louth, Longford, Offaly, Kildare and Roscommon.

Some 22 per cent of all households are now without any work and the report says that a quarter of all children are living in jobless households.