Dr Kieran Walsh, John Cullinan, Caroline Finn and Professor Thomas Scharf, the authors of the NUI Galway report on financial hardship for older people. Aengus McMahon via NUI Galway

Study says recession has hit older people more than reported

A study from NUI Galway says the perception that older people have secure finances is not always a fair one.

IRELAND’S OLDER POPULATION has been hit harder by the economic downturn than might be widely reported, a new study has claimed.

Research from NUI Galway suggests that older people are experiencing significantly more financial hardship than may be reported – even by official statistics.

The study says the level of deprivation indicated in official national data can be skewed, depending on the choice of indicators used to compile them.

It says that some official data is based on measurements which are less relevant when dealing with older people – meaning the level of financial hardship among the older population is often higher than official numbers would imply.

“Older people’s finances are not regarded as a problem, but look deeper and genuine hardship is there,” said NUI Galway’s Prof Thomas Scharf, director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology which produced the report.

“Our research suggests that older people respond differently to standard deprivation measures than other population groups.

“This means that reported levels of deprivation may under-estimate the actual experience of poverty and deprivation amongst older people.”

The report suggests that a separate standalone index should be used to measure deprivation among the older population.

It found that while the state pension had not been reduced, many older people had lost other forms of support – for example, their children who they may previously have been able to rely on for help may no longer be able to do so.

Other participants, who would otherwise have been financial comfortable, had encountered difficulty because they had helped to provide financial support to their own adult children and grandchildren.

A cut to the state pension is among the measures rumoured to be included in today’s Budget.

Read: Explainer: What actually happens on Budget Day?

Plus: Exchequer returns: Government’s tax take 0.5 per cent below target

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