ONE in seven Irish people on social welfare has never worked a day in their lives.
Some 43,375 people – or one in seven of those in receipt of the €188-a-week Jobseeker's Benefit – has never made any contribution to the PRSI system, meaning that they have never been in employment.
Of those, one in three, or 13,222, is 35 or older, which makes them more likely to have children who are growing up with parents who have never contributed to the State.
The new figures show there are 2,677 people aged between 60 and 65 who have never made a PRSI contribution.
The number of people confined to the 'dole for life' is highlighted in data released by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton's department, which strengthen suggestions that to some people, living on welfare has become a lifestyle choice.
PRSI must be paid by all employees, whether full-time or part-time, and self-employed people with a minimum annual income who are 16 or over.
The information was obtained by the chairman of the Labour Party, Colm Keaveney, who has called for a full-scale investigation of "these disturbingly shocking figures".
The number of people on the Live Register in Ireland stands at 426,900, but according to the real unemployed figures, contained in the CSO Quarterly National Household Survey, the number of unemployed persons is 294,600.
Mr Keaveney said the figures showed the extent to which the black economy in certain counties has been allowed to flourish, which causes those on low incomes to pay the price.