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Ireland's high earners feel 'insecure' with 28% finding it difficult to make end meets

Despite concerns, the highest earners in Ireland do not want to pay less tax on their earnings.

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IRELAND’S HIGH EARNERS are likely to feel more insecure than those in Sweden, the UK and Spain with 28% saying they had “difficulty” making ends meet, according to a new study. 

The study by the Think Tank for Action on Social Change (Tasc), entitled Inequality And The Top 10% in Europe, found that despite the higher salaries of the top 10% in Ireland compared to the other three countries, high earners here are much more likely to feel insecure.  

The research found that 24% of Ireland’s high earners surveyed said that they had “some difficulty” making ends meet; 3% had “difficulty” and 1% had “great difficulty”.

This is compared with 15% of the highest earners in Spain, 11% in the UK and 3% in Sweden who had difficulty of some degree in meeting financial commitments.

In Ireland, the threshold for the top 10% for those within the workforce starts at a gross personal earning rate of just under €70,000. 

The threshold for the top 1% within the workforce is just under €190,000. The majority of those in the top 10% work as managers, professionals and associate professionals. They are generally between the ages of 41 and 60 and they are overwhelmingly male, according to Tasc.

The mean or average gross personal earning rate in Ireland is just over €36,000.  

Meanwhile, the study found that younger high earners in Ireland are more concerned about their ability to buy a house, plan a family and settle down.

“Most feel that while they may have more disposable income they do not have the same wealth and quality of life as previous generations, often linked to property ownership, particularly in Dublin,” according to the study. 

Unequal system 

Despite concerns, the highest earners in Ireland do not want to pay less tax on their earnings.

“Instead, they overwhelmingly want to see tax revenue being used by the government to ensure universal access to high quality public services, especially in education and health,” according to the study. 

“This report shows that equality matters, not just for lower paid workers and the most vulnerable and disadvantaged but for all of society, including the wealthiest,” said Dr Shana Cohen, Director of Tasc.

“Even before the arrival of the pandemic and new uncertainties about the length and severity of the inevitable recession, many of those who, in principle, should have felt most secure were already struggling financially or expressing uncertainty about their own and their children’s future,” she added.

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“It is clear that if the current unequal system isn’t working for them, it isn’t working for anyone else either, bar perhaps the super-wealthy top 1%.”

Dr Cohen said that that policy makers across all parties “need to make the case for greater distribution and progressive public services more urgently, before the insecurity that the wealthy feel becomes more intensified and entrenched.”

In addition, the new study found that the top 10% in Ireland have “little faith” that the Government will deliver required public services and have no political allegiance despite stereotypes. 

“The right policies to build security could form the basis for a cross class alliance for change,” said Dr Cohen. 

“A good place to start in securing the support of this influential group is for politicians to recognise that public investment in public services provides the antidote to insecurity and financial vulnerability,” she said.

“A good, reliable and universal public health service, access to affordable housing and clear paths to social mobility through education and apprenticeships would address the anxiety that this segment of the population, as well as the overwhelming majority of Irish citizens, feel now.”

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