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Ireland's suicide rate is below EU average - OECD report

The study found that incomes and employment in Ireland remain far below their pre-crisis levels.

Image: Photocall Ireland

MORE THAN ONE in six Irish adults now live in households where no-one works, according to a major new report by the OECD.

Close to 17 per cent of people live in ‘jobless’ homes – a figure which has almost doubled since the crisis and is far higher than the average for both the EU and the OECD.

The study also found that Ireland’s suicide rate is 11 per 100,000 population,  just below the EU average of 12.2 and the OECD average of 12.4.

In one of the most damning statistics in the report, the percentage of people in Ireland who say that they cannot afford food has doubled to 9 per cent.

Households in Ireland have had their income fall by €1,800 per person since the economic crisis began in 2008, according to the report. The average income per person is now €18,500 in the wake of one of the biggest crashes in income in the entire eurozone.

The OECD report said that the figures reflect the deterioration of the labour market, particularly for young people.

It also found that economic output, employment and incomes all remain far below their pre-crisis levels.

However the study praises the government for what the OECD describes  as “well-targeted social benefits”, which it said were effective at supporting hard-hit families during the downturn. It noted that spending on unemployment benefits more than doubled while other social welfare payments also increased.

“The priority now is helping people get off benefits and back into work,” the report says.

Unsurprisingly, the study noted that Irish households faced very large falls in earnings and a steep deterioration in the labour market since the economic crisis began in 2008.

The OECD report called Society at a Glance 2014 warned that class divisions could worsen and become entrenched as not enough is being done to help the people who have been worst hit by the recession.

The study found that poorer households have lost bigger shares of their incomes than the better-off, or else benefited less in the recovery, particularly in Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Italy and Spain.

The study said that while it is too early to quantify the longer-term effects of the crisis on people’s health, unemployment and economic difficulties are known to contribute to a range of health issues, including mental illness.

The share of people who cannot afford to buy enough food increased in 23 countries, particularly in Greece and Hungary, while the number of people living in households without any income from work has doubled in Ireland, as well as in Greece and Spain.

“The economic recovery alone will not be enough to heal the social divisions and help the hardest hit bounce back,” said Secretary-General of the OECD Angel Gurría.

“Governments need to put in place more effective social policies to help their citizens deal with future crises. They also need to avoid complacency and persevere in their reform efforts as the recovery takes hold”.

Read: Noonan says income tax cuts are not a play for popularity >

Read: Risk that high unemployment will become ‘structural’ in Ireland >

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