People in urban areas ‘more likely’ to face social exclusion

New ESRI study looks at who is most likely to experience five barriers to social inclusion



People living in urban areas are more likely to face barriers to social inclusion, according to new research published by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and Pobal.

The study, which examines who is most likely to experience at least one of five barriers to social inclusion, is based on participants in the Department of Rural and Community Development’s Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP).

Barriers include belonging to a jobless household; being a lone parent; having a disability; being homeless or affected by housing exclusion; and belonging to an ethnic minority.

People in urban areas were more likely than their rural equivalents to report experiencing all barriers except having a disability.

This was true even after accounting for other factors, suggesting that urban environments increase an individual’s likelihood of experiencing barriers irrespective of the population density and deprivation level of an area.

The study found that across all SICAP clients, the most commonly-reported barrier was belonging to a jobless household. Four out of ten people in the study reported this barrier. Typically, less than 10 per cent of clients reported each of the other barriers.

People with low levels of educational attainment are more likely to face all five barriers. People educated to above Leaving Certificate level are 10 per cent less likely to belong to a jobless household, be a lone parent, or have a disability.

EU nationals

Compared to their Irish counterparts, EU nationals are less likely to report experiencing barriers. Non-EU nationals are more likely to report housing difficulties and disabilities.

“The results of the research suggest that the distribution of, and drivers of, barriers to social inclusion are complex and that any public policy initiative aimed at reducing such barriers needs to be highly targeted to be effective,” the ESRI said.

ESRI research professor Seamus McGuinness, who authored the report, said the key findings of the study “include the strong link between low levels of education and barriers to social inclusion”.

He said there was a “higher risk” that individuals living in urban locations have of experiencing all of the barriers considered within the study.

Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring welcomed the research. “I am committed to the removal of any barriers to social inclusion,” he said.

“I want everybody, no matter what their circumstances, to have a chance to grow and achieve in our society – SICAP, overseen by my Department, is really helping.

“SICAP 2018-2022 has learned from and improved upon the previous programme. It is now much more targeted and provides support to those who need it most in all corners of Ireland”.