Our biggest worries: money, health and relationships

‘Irish Times’ poll shows women worry more than men and anxieties decrease with age

What keeps Irish people awake at night? Money, or too little of it, is our number one concern, according to a major "Family Values" poll carried out by Ipsos MRBI on behalf of The Irish Times.

In the poll of 1,000 individuals, 45 per cent identified “not having enough money to cover my monthly outgoings” as an area of concern. The survey asked about six areas of “worry”: not having enough money; not having enough free time; work-life balance; physical health; mental health; and relationship difficulties.

In all six areas, women were more likely than men to say they worried about the issues. And among the three age categories surveyed – 15-34, 35-54, and 55-plus – those over 55 worried least.

It found we worry about different things depending on our circumstances. People with jobs are more likely to worry about their free time than their bank balances. More than half (51.3 per cent) of working people said they worried about not having enough free time, while 47.8 per cent worried about their work/life balance. However, 46 per cent of working people also worry about money.


Money worries differ depending on age: more than half of respondents under 55 admitt they had money concerns, compared with just 31 per cent of those aged 55 or over.

By far the most likely category to worry about money was the unemployed, more than two-thirds of whom worried about their outgoings in the four weeks leading up to the poll. The next greatest worry for those without work was their health (46 per cent cited concerns about their physical health; one-third said they worried about their mental health).

Working people were less likely than those without jobs to worry about their physical or mental health and were also less likely to have relationship difficulties.

However, a similar percentage of both working and unemployed people (18 per cent) said they did not worry about any of the specific issues raised by the poll.

But some people do not worry much at all. The poll showed that just over a fifth (22.8 per cent) worry about none of the listed issues. Men were more likely than women to have “no worries”: 28 per cent of men said none of these things worried them, compared with 18 per cent of women.

But the most worry-free group are retired people. Almost half (48.7 per cent) said they did notworry about any of the issues raised. When older people worry at all, it is most likely to be about their physical health (one-third of those over 55 said they worried about this), but this age group was least worried about their mental health.

Retirees had the fewest relationship concerns: just 1.7 per cent said they worried about their marriage or relationship.

Parents of young children had the highest level of worry: nine out of 10 parents who have children under the age of 12 said they worried about one or more of the issues raised, and were most likely to cite multiple concerns.

The main worry cited by parents with young children was not having enough free time, a concern raised by 62 per cent of parents of children aged four or under.

However, parents of young children can look forward to a less troubled existence in future: while more than 90 per cent of parents of under-13s reported that they worried about one or more of the issues raised, this fell to 88 per cent among parents of teenagers and to 63 per cent among parents with children of 18 and over.

The types of concerns cited also changed over time. Parents with teenagers tended to worry about money more than they did concerns around their work/life balance or free time.

And people without children tended to have more worries than those who had children: just 18 per cent of people without children said they did not worry about any of the issues raised, compared with 26 per cent of parents.

The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI of a representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 15 and was carried out between February 5th and 19th. More results and analysis of the The Irish Times Family Values survey will appear on Saturday.