independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Quarter of our children grow up in jobless homes – twice EU average

ALMOST a quarter of all children in Ireland are growing up in a household where nobody has a job, the leading government-funded think tank says in a new report.

Half of all those living in so-called jobless households are children or disabled, the report adds.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) report shows that Ireland has more households without a job than anywhere else in the European Union – but implies that generous welfare payments ensure many of these people are not at risk of poverty.

Around 22.8pc of Irish people live in a jobless home while the EU average is 10pc.

The worst country after Ireland is Britain, where 13.1pc of the population live in jobless homes.

Recession

The percentage of Irish people in jobless households increased very rapidly after the start of the recession, rising from 15pc in 2007.

The high rate in Ireland is partly due to the level of unemployment but also reflects the high birth rate, large size of families and large number of people under the working age.

The risk of living in a jobless household is higher for lone parents, the disabled and those with a bad education.

More than half of those living in households where nobody works are either children or disabled, the report adds.

"There were some unexpected findings," says report author Dorothy Watson.

"While unemployment is clearly important in accounting for the high level of joblessness in Ireland, it is far from being the dominant factor." The Government should improve childcare and support for people with a disability by helping them learn skills and look for work, she added.

Poor

The report also looks at the number of people who are working but still live in poverty.

That figure has only increased from 7pc to 8pc between 2007 and 2010, it adds.

The risk of working but being poor is higher for the self-employed and those in low-skilled occupations.

Measuring poverty and the risk of poverty is always controversial.

Related figures published recently shows the percentage of people classed as "at risk" of poverty is just 16.1pc in Ireland.

This is slightly less than the average in the European Union and the same as the eurozone. Greece, Spain, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Britain all have a higher at-risk-of-poverty rates than Ireland.

The country's relatively good showing despite high unemployment is due to generous welfare payments.

Irish Independent

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