Families deal with recession legacy long after economy recovers - ESRI

Research finds families face economic stress even when financial situation improves

 Families have to deal with the legacy of the recession, even years after the economy recovers, according to the ESRI. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

Families have to deal with the legacy of the recession, even years after the economy recovers, according to the ESRI. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

 

Families have to deal with the legacy of the recession, even years after the economy recovers, according to the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

Prof Dorothy Watson, research professor at the ESRI, said families faced economic stress and exhaustion from the recession even when their financial situation improves.

“Even though incomes might recover fairly quickly, once the family moves into employment again or once the wages start going up again, it does take a little bit longer for the economic stress to go down,” she said.

“Maybe you have borrowings, lots of things in the house that are on the verge of breaking down that need to be replaced, so there’s kind of a legacy of the recession.”

Prof Watson was speaking at the ESRI’s launch of The Growing Up in Ireland (GUI) study, which examined the lives of children during the recession, based on interviews with over 9,500 families and their children.

It found two out of three families saw their incomes fall during the recession, one in seven went into arrears on utility bills, and one in 10 fell behind on their rent or mortgage.

Prof Watson said one of the key messages from the ESRI’s two reports for policymakers is that children must not be viewed in isolation.

“Context matters - it’s not just a matter of looking at children, you have to look at their families, the well-being of their parents, their communities and their schools.

“Children live with families, if you want to ensure the wellbeing of children, you need to think about what affects families and there are some big social issues; employment is obviously one which is going in the right direction at the moment, housing and all the stresses and strains around all that as well.”

Dr Anne Marie Brooks from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs said as part of the Government’s ‘First 5’ strategy for babies, young children and their families, there will be new developments in child health, “including measures to promote positive healthy behaviours and to promote mental health among young children and their families”.

She said there will also be a “package of measures” to tackle early childhood poverty, including the development of a “Deis type model” for early learning and care services.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone said the report’s findings highlight the need “to address economic strain in families and support parental health”.