Sunday 25 February 2018

Singles dominate EU but Ireland is kids' capital

Civil servants owed the State at least €4.6m at end of last year because of salary overpayments that had not been returned. Stock photo
Civil servants owed the State at least €4.6m at end of last year because of salary overpayments that had not been returned. Stock photo
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Across Europe a single person living alone is far and away the most common form of household - accounting for fully a third of the total.

The figures vary widely though - in Germany people living on their own account for fully four out of 10 households.

In Ireland it's barely more than a fifth - with families of all kinds with children far more common, a situation that has changed only marginally since 2006.

In 2015, the average household size across all 28 European Union nations was 2.3 members. Croatia and Slovakia, among the newest and poorer EU members, had the largest average household sizes at 2.8 people each.

Unsurprisingly, wealthy Sweden (1.8), Germany and Denmark (2 each) had the smallest average household.

The trend typically has seen the size of households drop as countries become wealthier, an important pointer for planners because smaller households mean more households, especially where populations overall are growing.

Single-occupant homes have been the fastest-growing segment in Europe since 2005.

Even so, the data shows household size has increased in Croatia since 2005, as the country moved towards EU membership in 2013.

EU-wide, the data shows that couples without children - a set that includes 'empty nest' retirees - are more common than households with kids.

The data from the European statistics agency Eurostat shows Ireland retains its crown as Europe's children's capital, again an important pointer for planners.

In 2015, across the EU, 29.8pc of the population lived in households with children. Here, the figure is 41.5pc -mainly couples with children (28.9pc) and with smaller numbers of single-parent households (6.2pc) while other households with children - such as homes with three generations living together -account for 6.4pc of the total.

Cyprus and Poland also record relatively high numbers of homes solely made up of two parents and children, but it's outside the EU, in Turkey, where the data shows that more than half of all households feature two parents and children, reflecting the youth of the country's huge population.

Back in the EU, the bloc added 20 million households between 2005 and 2015 to reach a total of 219 million, an average growth of 1.1pc a year in the stock of homes.

Here, a rising population meant that the number of households increased sharply in the period - despite the financial crash and the well known shortages of new homes on recent years.

The total number of Irish households was 1.48 million in 2005 and stood at 1.7 million by last year, the data shows.

Irish Independent

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