Most families with young families affected by the recession, new research shows

Those earning least hit hardest and faced the largest increase in economic stress

Some 94 per cent of families reported being affected by the recession, with 23 per cent saying they had been “very significantly” affected. Photograph: Getty Images

Some 94 per cent of families reported being affected by the recession, with 23 per cent saying they had been “very significantly” affected. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The vast majority of Irish families with young children were negatively impacted by the recession according to new research from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

The study also shows that while those earning the least were hit the hardest by the economic collapse, the recession “had a stronger impact, in relative terms, on the groups that had initially been more advantaged in terms of income, social class or family type”.

Researchers used interviews done as part of the Growing Up in Ireland longitudinal study of children and their families from 2007 to 2008 when children were nine years old, and interviews from 2011 to 2012 when the same children were 13 to measure the economic stresses before and during the recession.

It established that 94 per cent of families reported being affected by the recession, with 23 per cent saying they had been “very significantly” affected.

There was a marked increase in the percentage experiencing economic stress, from 8 per cent in 2007-2008 to 23 per cent in 2011-2012.

Among those families affected during what the study calls the “great recession”, most experienced a reduction in earnings and/or social welfare payments while one quarter experienced loss of employment.

Looking at the change across social classes, income groups and family types, the overall pattern was broadly one where the largest absolute increases in economic stress were experienced by the most vulnerable while the smallest absolute increases in stress were seen at the other end of the spectrum.

Unskilled social class experienced a 21 percentage point increase in economic stress while the professional/managerial social class experienced a 10 percentage point increase.

However, in relative terms, this would amount to a six-fold increase for the professional/managerial social class – because they started from such a low level of risk – compared to a doubling for the unskilled social class.

Focusing on family type, the major contrast was between lone parents and couple families.

The largest risk in economic stress was experienced by lone parents while it was lower for couple with one to two children.

While the increase was here quite similar between these two groups of families the relative increase was fourfold for couples, with one to two children compared to a doubling of risk for lone parents.