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Cutting back & going without – deprivation and the recession

Posted on June 11, 2015 by Micheál Collins

The scale of Ireland’s recent recession was such that its impact was unavoidable for almost all of society. Whether through job losses, pay reductions, welfare reductions, cuts to services or new taxes and charges, its impact touched almost every household. Income (disposable), just one measure, shows a more than 10.5% fall between 2007 and 2013. However, the story of how people coped with such dramatic changes in living standards is more complex than just changes in income.

Trends in deprivation offer a further complementary insight. Between 2007 and 2013 (the latest year data is available), the CSO’s Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) shows that the deprivation rate almost tripled – from 11.8% to 30.5% of the population. Deprivation is measured as the percentage of the population who report that they are unable to afford two or more eleven basic items. These include:

  • Going without heating at some stage in the last year;
  • Unable to afford a morning, afternoon or evening out in the last fortnight;
  • Unable to afford two pairs of strong shoes;
  • Unable to afford a roast once a week;
  • Unable to afford a meal with meat, chicken or fish every second day;
  • Unable to afford new (not second-hand) clothes;
  • Unable to afford a warm waterproof coat;
  • Unable to afford to keep the home adequately warm;
  • Unable to afford to replace any worn out furniture;
  • Unable to afford to have family or friends for a drink or meal once a month;
  • Unable to afford to buy presents for family or friends at least once a year.

Indicator 5.1 in the latest edition of the NERI’s Quarterly Economic Facts document tracks these trends, alongside those for poverty.

Looking at the trends within these eleven items gives some further insight into how people absorbed austerity. The chart presents the change in the proportion of the population who experienced deprivation on each of the items between 2007 and 2013. While there are increases for all of the eleven indicators, the biggest changes imply that people cut back on socialising, heating their home and replacing furniture.

As much as these trends are informative of the experience of households as the recession evolved, they should also offer a useful barometer of recovery in the years to come.

Further details on this data and these trends is outlined in the latest edition of the NERI’s Quarterly Economic Facts document (see indicator 5.1).

Posted in: IncomeInequality

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