Friday 22 September 2017

Half of all wealth in Ireland owned by just 10pc

'The 26pc home ownership rate for single parents is a fraction of the more than two thirds of couples with children who own their own home'
'The 26pc home ownership rate for single parents is a fraction of the more than two thirds of couples with children who own their own home'
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Ireland's richest 10pc of households own more than half the country's wealth, while one in two homes headed by a lone parent has less than €300 in the bank.

Research from the Tasc think-tank has found that the poorest half of the population owns just 5pc of Ireland's financial assets.

The study, based on analysis of data from the Central Statistics Office's Household Finance and Consumption Survey, shows wealth in Ireland is highly concentrated, Tasc said.

"The 72.7pc of net wealth held by the top 20pc of households is higher than the euro area average of 67.6pc," Tasc said.

The net wealth of a household is calculated by adding up its assets, minus its debts - so a family in a €500,000 home who have a €490,000 mortgage and no other assets would be "worth" €10,000.

Unsurprisingly, Tasc found homes headed by a lone parent - mostly women - are typically the poorest in the country.

More than half of all single parents have less than €300 in savings, compared to €4,000 for single-person households.

Asset

The 26pc home ownership rate for single parents is a fraction of the more than two thirds of couples with children who own their own home.

For middle-income families, home ownership is the main asset. The rate of home ownership has dropped from 81pc in 1991 to around 70pc, Tasc said.

"This data shows how concentrated wealth is in Ireland. Given how far total wealth has rebounded since the crash, it is important that we understand who has benefited from this turnaround," says Cormac Staunton, author of the Tasc report.

"Our study shows that the average household has net wealth that is seven times greater than that of a single-parent household. Single parents are less likely to own a home or a business, more likely to be credit constrained and they have much higher debt-to-asset ratios.

"Their average savings are 10 times lower than the average household and more than half of all single parents have less than €300 in savings.

"Given that 85pc of single-parent households are [headed by] women, there is a strong gender aspect to the distribution of wealth," Mr Staunton said. Wealth tends to be distributed more unequally than income and a highly unequal distribution of wealth causes problems for both the economy and society, Tasc said.

Irish Independent

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