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(File photo) People queue outside the Social welfare offices in Thomas Street Dublin in 2009 /Photocall Ireland

Ireland has the highest rate of young people receiving benefits across 35 countries

A recent report compared and measured the experience of youth across OECD member states.

IRELAND HAS THE highest rate of young people receiving unemployment and disability benefits across the 35 countries of the OECD.

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) is an intergovernmental organisation set up to stimulate world trade and economic growth across its members states.

A recent report compared and measured the experience of youth across OECD member states.

The report, entitled Society at a Glance 2016 and published today, found that over a quarter of people in Ireland aged between 16 and 29 years old were in receipt of either disability or unemployment benefit in 2014.

Next to Ireland were Finland and Austria (both close to 20%). This is compared to an average of 10% across the OECD.

The report found that the figure was driven by high youth unemployment, but also a “particularly high rate of disability benefit receipt” with 5% of youth receiving this payment.

The report said this was “a particular worry” as receipt of disability benefit tends to be long term.

The report found, however, that the benefit system did “an excellent job of lifting youth out of poverty”.

“Close to 70% of youth who would be below the poverty line before receiving benefits are lifted out of poverty by these benefits,” the report found.

This is the best performance in this regard in the OECD.

unemployed Percentages of young people (16-29) in receipt of unemployment (grey) and disability (blue) benefits across the OECD. OECD OECD


The report points to the strong impact the recent economic crisis and recession had on increasing levels of youth unemployment.

The proportion of young people not in employment, education or training (known the NEET) rose hugely during the recession.

The NEET doubled from 11% in 2007 to 22% in 2010. It currently remains double that of over 25 year olds.

The report found that people with low education levels “fare particularly bad in Ireland”.

65% of youth who dropped out of secondary school are not in employment, education or training, compared to just 13% of those with a third level degree – this is one of the largest gaps in the OECD.

Other notable stats from the report:

  • Disinterest in politics in Ireland is high, with around one quarter of the total population, and over one third of 15-29 year olds, expressing no interest at all in politics, around 40% higher than the OECD average.
  • Poverty rates are highest among youths (at 16%) and lowest among the elderly (at 7%).
  • 83% of adults report good health (compared to a 69% OECD average).
  • Ireland is one of the few countries in which youth born outside the country do not have higher NEET rates than Irish born youth.
  • Ireland has one of the most comparable NEET rates between women and men. Across the OECD NEET rates for women are 38% higher than for men – in Ireland this gap was only 12% in 2015.

You can view the report here

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