Families being hit by crisis, finds study


Almost two-thirds of families with young teenagers say they are experiencing significant hardship due to the recession, a new study has found.

Some 61 per cent of 13-year-olds and their families, interviewed in the survey, said the downturn had led to difficulties, compared to just 29 per cent of the same sample group interviewed three years previously.

The most frequently highlighted effects were a reduction in wages (68 per cent), social welfare reduction (55 per cent) and an inability to pay bills (13 per cent).

No luxuries

Some 11 per cent of families highlighted being behind with rent or mortgage repayments and just over half (55 per cent) said they could not afford to buy luxuries.

The findings are part of the latest stage of the “Growing Up in Ireland” study, based on indepth interviews with children and their families. It is principally funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and conducted by researchers led by the Economic and Social Research Institute and Trinity College Dublin.

The latest findings represent the first longitudinal results from interviews with 13-year-olds previously interviewed in 2007 and 2008.

The results identify a “reasonably high” level of exercise among the teenagers.

While most maintained a healthy body weight over time, some 26 per cent were either overweight or obese by 13. This was more true of girls than boys. Those with weight problems at nine tended to maintain them, while girls were more likely to report efforts to lose weight.

Almost one in five (19 percent) live in one-parent families. Some 46 per cent had discussed sex and relationship issues with their parents, although the proportion was higher among girls. At 13, the t majority said they had not tried smoking (91 per cent), although 15 per cent said they had tried alcohol.