IRISH CHILDREN and working-age adults are more at risk of poverty or social exclusion than any other children in Western Europe, according to new EU data.
Figures compiled by the EU’s statistics agency Eurostat show that Ireland’s children are more likely to face social exclusion of financial poverty than their counterparts in 22 of the other 26 EU member states.
38 per cent of Irish under-18s are most at risk of one of three forms of poverty or social exclusion - living in households with disposable income below 60 per cent of the national median, being unable to pay bills on time, or living in households where adults have paid work for less than 20 per cent of their available time.
Only children in Bulgaria (52 per cent), Romania (49 per cent), Latvia (44 per cent) and Hungary (40 per cent) are more likely to be exposed to any of these types of poverty. All four of those countries are among the newer entrants to the EU.
Children in the Scandinavian countries of Finland, Sweden and Denmark were the least likely to face poverty, at 16 per cent each, followed by Slovenia (17 per cent), the Netherlands (18 per cent) and Austria (19 per cent). The EU average is 27 per cent.
When people among all age groups are taken into account, 29.9 per cent of Irish people are at risk of poverty – well above the EU average of 24.2 per cent.
29.7 per cent of Irish adults aged between 18 and 64 face a poverty risk, the sixth-highest in the EU – and, again, higher than any other country in the western side of the continent.
However, when dealing only with people aged 65 and over, Irish people are among those least likely to face poverty: 12.9 per cent of Ireland’s elderly are at risk of poverty, compared to an EU average of 20.5 per cent, with only four countries performing better.
Ireland is the only country of the 27 not to have produced data for the year 2011; its figures in the study are based on statistics for 2010, while other countries are ranked based on 2011 data.
The continued financial struggles experienced by many households in Ireland in 2011 mean that the true figures could be less favourable for Ireland, particularly when dealing with the impact of the economic crisis on younger people.