Two thirds of families struggle to make ends meet
Growing Up in Ireland survey says financial difficulties are ‘pervasive and persistent’
Some 67 per cent of families interviewed said they had experienced some level of difficulty making ends meet this year. That is up from 61 per cent when their children were three and 43 per cent when they were nine months. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times
Two-thirds of families with young children say the recession has had a very significant effect on them, with 43 per cent having had to cut back on basics and a quarter finding it very difficult to make ends meet.
The findings from the Growing Up in Ireland study published today follow in-depth interviews with the families of 11,100 five-year-olds between March and September this year. The families were previously interviewed in 2008 when the children were nine months old and in 2011 when they were three.
The financial difficulties experienced by families have been both “pervasive and persistent,” according to the study.
The number finding it difficult or very difficult to make ends meet has more than doubled since the families were first interviewed, from 12 per cent in 2008 to 25 per cent this year.
Some 67 per cent of families said they had experienced some level of difficulty making ends meet this year. That is up from 61 per cent when their children were three and 43 per cent when they were nine months.
Of that 67 per cent, 43 per cent said they had to cut back or could not afford the basics, 25 per cent said they were experiencing great difficulties making ends meet, 17 per cent said they were behind with utility bills and 14 per cent were behind in their rent or mortgage.
Across the board
The impact of the downturn is being felt across the board, with half of the families in the highest income quintile experiencing its effects.
The most common effects include reduction in income (70 per cent), reduction in social welfare (65 per cent), inability to afford luxuries (56 per cent) and cutting back on basics (43 per cent).
Financial stress was most persistent in one-parent families, with more than half consistently finding it hard to make ends meet since their child was nine months old.
Just over half of mothers of five-year-olds were employed outside the home.
One in four families said they could not have afforded to send their child to preschool if it had not been for the free preschool scheme. This provides 38 weeks of preschool for three hours a day for children between three years and two months and four years and seven months.