Many still in poverty despite boom in education levels

Report from the Central Statistics Office also shows more than six in 10 people overweight

Despite the increases in disposable income and earnings, 18.8 per cent of people experiencing “enforced deprivation”.

Despite the increases in disposable income and earnings, 18.8 per cent of people experiencing “enforced deprivation”.


The number of people in third level education has increased more than nine fold over the past half century, but a significant proportion of the population are still living in enforced deprivation, according to a report by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The report, Ireland’s Facts and Figures 2018, covers a wide range of topics and is made up of the CSO’s most recently available data, most of which relates to 2017.

On education, it shows that the number of people in third level education, which includes Post Leaving Cert courses, has increased from 20,698 in 1965/66 to 189,147 in the 2016/2017 academic year. There were 102,662 people at third level in 1995/1996.

While the number of students at primary level has remained largely the same over the period, the numbers attending secondary school have also increased, albeit at a lesser rate.

There were 142,983 students at second level in 1965/66 compared with 373,665 in 1995/1996, and 386,699 in 2016/2017.

Despite the increase in education levels, the report shows that in the second quarter of 2018, 11.8 per cent of children and 10.2 per cent of persons under 60 were living in jobless households.

The report shows that weekly household disposable income during 2017 increased by €41.59, or 4.7 per cent, to €929.01. Weekly individual disposable income increased by €24.94, or 5.5 per cent, to €478.79.

Average annual earnings increased by 2 per cent to €37,646, up from €36,920 in 2016. The average full-time employee was paid €46,402, which was up 1.7 per cent, while part-time employees were paid €17,059, which was an increase of 3.2 per cent.

Despite the increases in disposable income and earnings, the report notes that 18.8 per cent of people were considered to be experiencing “enforced deprivation”.

This is defined as not being able to afford two or more basics, such as going without heating in the past year, or being unable to afford items such as two pairs of strong shoes, a warm waterproof coat, or a meal with meat, chicken or fish every second day.

Some 15.7 per cent of people were “at risk of poverty”, which is defined as persons whose income was less than 60 per cent of the national median income. Almost 7 per cent were said to be both at risk of poverty and also experiencing enforced deprivation.

In terms of housing, €74.8 billion was extended for mortgages in 2017, out of a total of €179 billion in credit advanced to the Irish private sector. Loans for house purchases were up €1.3 billion or 1.8 per cent on 2016.

On health, 62 per cent of people were classified as overweight or obese, which was up slightly from 60 per cent in 2015. A person is classified as overweight if their body mass index exceeds 25 and is classified as obese if it is 30 or higher.

Almost 40 per cent of those aged 15 and older were binge drinking regularly in 2017, which is defined as consuming six or more standard drinks in one sitting, which is the equivalent of three or more pints of beer or six or more pub measures of spirits.

Meanwhile, the number of people getting married is dropping. There were 22,021 marriages in 2017, which was a decrease of 605 or 2.7 per cent. There were 759 same-sex marriages, which was down by 297 or 28.1 per cent.

In 2016, there were 1,189 sets of twins, 24 sets of triplets and two sets of quadruplets born.