Tuesday 23 July 2019

Childcare and social exclusion pull down our EU survey score

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David Chance

Ireland scores well overall in the latest EU survey of life and work, coming in seventh place behind the Scandinavians, Austria, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

But childcare here lags behind not only our rich peers, but many of the poorest countries in the bloc.

The annual 'Living and working in Europe' survey by Eurofound also showed that Ireland, one of the richest countries in the EU, scored worse on social exclusion than some of the poorer members of the bloc, such as Estonia and Latvia.

In childcare, the State is an outlier as the prohibitive cost of childcare means the quality rating assigned by consumers here is just 5.9 out of 10, compared with an overall rating of seven out of 10 across the EU, and well behind that of other high-income countries, such as Sweden, which scores 8.1.

"The quality rating people give to the childcare services in their country is related to the affordability of services. Higher overall quality ratings are associated with fewer difficulties in access due to cost," the survey said.

By contrast, satisfaction with health outcomes appears to have improved, although it comes off a low base in 2011 here, as well as in Bulgaria, Romania and Lithuania.

The survey said that 17pc of the EU population would find it difficult to pay for primary care at short notice, while 29pc would find hospital care hard to cover.

Healthcare funding here has become a big issue for the budget, with overspends of €500m a year since 2013.

Social exclusion is also higher here than in the EU as a whole, with a rating of 28.9 out of 100, against an EU average of 28.4.

Ireland ranks well behind Denmark with a score of 17.5, as well as Germany which is on 20.8.

"The fact that social exclusion is lower in countries such as Estonia and Latvia than in Luxembourg and Ireland - the countries with the highest GDP per capita in the EU - indicates that economic prosperity is not the only factor determining whether people feel part of society," it says.

Complicating that picture somewhat, Ireland had one of the highest levels of trust rankings among its people, at 55.3 against the EU average of 46.4, and a relatively high score on civic engagement, at 28.3 versus 16.7 for the EU.

Irish Independent

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