Fewer people participating in sport, new CSO survey finds

Wellbeing of the Nation report finds people spending more money on sports and leisure every week

The 2010 Dublin marathon:  Fewer people are participating in sport. Photograph: The Irish Times

The 2010 Dublin marathon: Fewer people are participating in sport. Photograph: The Irish Times


Fewer people are participating in sport, but individuals are spending more on average every week on sports and leisure, according to a new survey on the state of the nation.

The Central Statistics Office report, The Wellbeing of the Nation - the first of its kind - found that participation in sport by those aged 15 and older fell to 45 per cent in 2015 from 47.2 per cent in 2013.

In a positive sign for the health of the country, however, the average weekly household expenditure on sport and leisure was €17.85 in 2015-2016 compared with €14.40 six years earlier.

In other key findings in the report - aimed at addressing the question of how people feel about their lives - the CSO found the number of “healthy life years” that people can expect to live has increased from 66.9 in 2014 to 67.3 in 2015.

The number of people classified as overweight or obese rose slightly, to 62 per cent in 2017 from 60 per cent two years earlier.

Binge-drinking rose again last year. In 2017 some 39 per cent of people aged 15 and older said that they binge-drink on a regular basis, compared with 37 per cent in 2016.

The report, which draws together new and previously released data, attempts to measure wellbeing under eight areas of society including economic conditions, housing and education levels.

Average household debt fell to €87,900 in 2015 from €93,900 a year earlier.

The percentage of adults who believe crime is a very serious problem in Ireland rose from 46 per cent in 2006 to 49 per cent in 2010.

The number of people aged between 25 and 64 with third-level education has remained constant at 41 per cent between 2015 and 2016.

In a sign of the distress in the housing sector, the CSO found the number of homeless people as measured in the two most recent censuses rose by 81 per cent from 3,808 in 2011 to 6,906.

The figure has increased to more than 8,000 since then.

Poverty levels have fallen slightly in recent years.

The percentage of people at risk of poverty or experiencing enforced deprivation was 8.7 per cent in 2015, down from 8.8 per cent the previous year but up from 6.9 per cent in 2011.

The number of people volunteering in the country has increased, from 24 per cent of the population aged 15 or older in 2006 to more than 28 per cent in 2013.

The average time people spend commuting rose to 28.2 minutes in 2016 from 26.6 minutes in 2011.

The number of people whose regular working hours exceed 48 hours a week stands at 8.4 per cent in 2016, down slightly from 8.5 per cent the previous year but up from 7.1 per cent in 2013.

Among those changing their job each year, the percentage of those being forced to do so because of dismissal, redundancy or early retirement fell to 11 per cent in 2015 from 15 per cent in 2011.

Half of all people had experienced discrimination in the workplace in 2014, up from 41 per cent in 2004.

The percentage of women in the Dáil has increased over the last five Dáils, from 12 per cent in 1997 to 21 per cent in 2016.

Damien Lenihan, a statistician at the CSO, said the aim of the publication was to create “a dashboard” of data to move beyond measuring the wellbeing of the nation along narrow economic metrics.

“It is to move away from GDP as a measure of society because it was never really designed to measure society,” he said. “GDP is an economic measure and using it as a proxy for society is just wrong.”

Mr Lenihan said the CSO would need a number of annual reports or an index before gauging whether the wellbeing of the nation had improved or not but that this was something they were considering.

“This publication is a starting point in measuring wellbeing and is an area which will be expanded further in the coming years,” he said.