The number of people who have a pension has fallen dramatically, new figures reveal.
Almost half of Ireland's entire workforce, some 896,000 people, now have no pension, according to the Central Statistics Office.
The number of people of working age with pensions has plummeted by almost 166,000, with inability to afford one cited as the main reason. Most of those who do not have a pension work in the private sector, pensions experts said.
A total of 941,000 do have a pension, the figures show. This represents just 51pc of the 1.8 million people in the workforce.
Even larger numbers of the self-employed do not have a pension, the data from the Quarterly National Household Survey indicates.
Some 58pc of adults in jobs who are between the ages of 30 and 65 have no pension.
This is well behind the State's target of having a situation where 70pc of this age group have a pension.
Just over half the workforce had a pension in the last three months of 2009, the CSO said. This works out at 941,000 workers, and compares with a high of 1.1 million at the start of 2008.
The sharp fall in pension provision is largely due to the shrinking of the workforce because of unemployment and people leaving the country.
Just a third of the self-employed had a pension at the end of 2009, down from close to half having a pension before the downturn kicked in at the beginning of 2008.
Young people are more likely not to have a pension than to have one, the figures show.
Just one in five between the ages of 20 and 24 had a pension. This compares with six out of 10 among those between the ages of 45 and 64.
A third of workers said they could not afford to have a retirement fund. The next most common reason was because people never got around to it.
A quarter of workers now expect the state contributory pension to be their main source of income when they retire, up from 20pc in 2005.