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The income gap between older people is widening

Over 26% of people over 50 rely on state transfers as their sole source of income.

TWO NEW REPORTS show stark inequalities in wealth and income among older people in Ireland.

The reports launched by the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland in Belfast, finds that while older people possess significant wealth in terms of assets, large income differences exist between the richest and poorest older people and this gap is widening over time.

They examine the issues of wealth and income inequalities across and within generations across the island of Ireland.

The reports stress the need to address inequalities among older people and ensure that the poorest older people are protected against cuts to income.

It found that:

  • Irish people aged over 65 have a median disposable weekly income of €446 compared to €790 for those aged 25-49, €654 for those aged 50-64 and €418 for those aged 16-24.
  • In the Republic of Ireland, 74% of people aged over 50 own their home outright and 13% have an outstanding mortgage on their home. The average value of savings held by this age group is €5,519.
  • Over 26% of people over 50 rely on state transfers as their sole source of income.

It added, however that the poorest older people had a modest rise of €32 per week between 2004 and 2011 in total incomes while those with the highest incomes had a rise of €255.

However, between 2009 and 2011 the incomes of the poorest older people actually decreased by €24 per week.

Professor Paddy Hillyard, Queen’s University Belfast, said that the research showed a huge gap in income.

“The research shows that there is considerable inequality among older people themselves.

“Therefore, we call on governments, both local and central, north and south, to find new and innovative ways to combine the resources (skills, time and money) of all age groups and generations in order to both strengthen intergenerational solidarity and reduce intergenerational inequality”.

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