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Posts in the "Income" category

How much income do you need in retirement?

Posted on April 23, 2013 by Micheál Collins

Pensions and pension's policy are back on the agenda following the recent release of the OECD report on the Irish pensions system. Details and the document are here: http://www.welfare.ie/en/pressoffice/Pages/pr220413.aspx


At the core of much discussion on pension issues is the question of what is an adequate income in retirement. In general the answer to this question tends to be inflated, driven by a pensions industry that wants more investments and inflated expectations of likely expenditure costs in retirement by workers.


In retirement, the expenditure of many, if not most, workers falls significantly as mortgages have been paid off, children have been reared and typically pensioner's health is good. For those who rent housing costs do remain, and for home owners property taxes and maintenance costs persist.

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Permanent link | Categories: IncomeInequality

How much do households need to live on?

Posted on March 28, 2013 by Micheál Collins

A regular topic in recent discussion of the policies Government is (finally) adopting to address insolvency issues is: How much of a household's income should be put towards debt repayment and how much should households be left with to live on? Despite all the recent discussion, there is a simple research based solution to these questions - one derived from the Minimum Income Standards research published by myself and the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice last year (Collins et al, 2012).

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Permanent link | Categories: Income

Women in the Economy and Labour Market

Posted on March 11, 2013 by Micheál Collins

Last week, on International Women's Day, I spoke at the ICTU joint women's committee seminar on the topic of 'Women in the Economy and the Labour Market'. My paper highlighted the latest data on the current challenges facing women, North and South, as they participate in the economy, enter or leave the labour market and cope with the impacts of the recession.


While I pointed at a number of potential remedies to the persistent gender wage gap and low participation rates among Irish women, the subsequent session addresses some of the potential solutions in more detail. Listening to the various inputs into that session, I thought there would be merit in linking it to some of the recent relevant NERI research and outputs. These include:

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Permanent link | Categories: GenderIncomeInequality

Still a high income country – despite the recession

Posted on March 11, 2013 by Micheál Collins

Indicator 4.1 from the NERI's latest Quarterly Economics Facts (QEF) document shows that despite the financial crisis, the Republic of Ireland's income per capita remains high. The latest data, for 2011, show that Ireland's average income of €35,400 is the sixth highest in the EU. The figure is calculated by dividing GDP by the population.


Using Gross National Product (GNP), a measure which somewhat takes account of the income earned in Ireland and subsequently repatriated by multinational companies, the CSO reported Ireland's GNP per capita for 2011 as €28,325 (equivalent to the tenth highest in the EU-27). In the UK GDP per capita in 2011 was equivalent to €27,900. There are no GDP figures available for Northern Ireland.

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Permanent link | Categories: IncomeInequality

Is a ‘living wage’ such a mad idea?

Posted on February 12, 2013 by Micheál Collins

Over recent years I have been involved in publishing a number of research papers and reports on issues related to low income in Ireland (see a list here). Among these, work with the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice focused on establishing the cost of a minimum essential standard of living in Ireland and subsequently estimating the income required to experience this. Outside Ireland, most particularly in the UK, research around minimum living standards has spawned further research into the concept of a living wage. Such a wage is taken to be an hourly wage rate sufficient to ensure that an employee earns enough to have a decent standard of living.

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Permanent link | Categories: GenderIncomeInequalityJobs

Wealth in Ireland: stable but what of its distribution?

Posted on February 11, 2013 by Micheál Collins

Indicator 4.4 from the NERI's latest Quarterly Economics Facts (QEF) document shows that despite the financial crisis, net financial wealth per person has been remarkably stable across Europe. In Ireland, the average resident possessed €26,507 of financial wealth (such as cash, bank deposits, or shares) in 2011 - the latest year where comparable EU wide data is available. This figure does not include non-financial wealth such as property. It should be noted that these are net average figures, and consequently they give no indication as to the severe financial strain under which many households are suffering. Indeed, despite a dearth in the provision of distribution data for wealth in Ireland, it is likely that wealth is at least as unequally distributed as income (see indicator 4.2a in the latest QEF).

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Permanent link | Categories: IncomeInequality

Income and Earnings: an insight

Posted on February 06, 2013 by Micheál Collins

Discussion on various policy options and decisions by Government is often framed in the context of the income distribution and the impact on families and individuals above and below certain income thresholds. Whether it is tax increases, welfare reductions, wage changes or the new property tax, political and media comment often refers to high and low income families, those earning more than €50,000 or €100,000 etc. Unfortunately, much of this comment tends to be distant from the reality of the income distribution in Ireland - something often cited but much misunderstood.

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Permanent link | Categories: IncomeInequality

1 in 5 children at risk of poverty

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Micheál Collins

The proportion of the Republic of Ireland's children living in households whose income is below the 60% of median income poverty line has experienced limited change over the past few years. While the years 2006-07 recorded a decrease from 22.3% to 19.9%, by 2010 almost 1 in every 5 children (19.5%) lived in a household experiencing relative income poverty.


Over the period 2006-2008 the proportion of children living in households experiencing both relative income poverty and deprivation (consistent poverty) decreased from 10.3% to 6.3%. However, since then it has increased and in 2010 8.2% of the ROI's children experienced consistent poverty.

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Permanent link | Categories: IncomeInequality

One fifth of Workers are ‘low-paid’

Posted on January 02, 2013 by Micheál Collins

Eurostat, the EU Statistics Agency, recently released new data on the proportion of low-paid workers in Ireland and across the EU. Their analysis defines low-earnings in relative terms measured as those earning two thirds or less of the national median gross hourly earnings. Median earnings are the earnings of the middle worker in the distribution of workers from the lowest earner to the highest earner. The data is from the 2010 Structure of Earnings Survey, a survey that occurs every four years across the EU. Its key findings for Ireland are:

  • The low-wage threshold in 2010 was €12.20 per hour
  • 20.7% of Irish workers are considered low paid
  • Low pay is more common among women, those with low education levels and workers with fixed duration contracts.

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Permanent link | Categories: GenderIncomeInequalityJobs

The growth in part-time work

Posted on December 13, 2012 by Micheál Collins

In the current edition of Mandate's regular publication, Shopfloor, I have an article highlighting the growth in part-time work over recent years. In it I highlight some of the material from the recent NERI conference on the unemployment crisis. The key points are:


While the headline figures on job losses tend to receive a lot of attention (over 300,000 jobs have been lost since 2007), the growth in the number of workers who are working but on reduced hours has been significant.

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Permanent link | Categories: GenderIncomeInequalityJobs

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