06 May 2022
Go to release: Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2021
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today (06 May 2022) issued results from the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) for 2021.
Commenting on today’s publication, Eva O’Regan, Statistician, said:
“The SILC household survey is the official source of data on household and individual income, and it provides a number of key national poverty indicators, such as; the at risk of poverty rate, the rate of enforced deprivation and the consistent poverty rate. Income and poverty estimates from SILC 2021 are calculated from 2020 calendar year income. This publication covers topics such as poverty rates, disposable income, difficulty making ends meet, and financial difficulties.
The at risk of poverty rate is the share of persons whose equivalised income is less than 60% of the national median equivalised. See At Risk of Poverty Indicators Explained (PDF 717KB)
In SILC 2021, the at risk of poverty rate was 11.6%, a 1.6 percentage point decrease from the 2020 rate (13.2%). Without COVID-19 income supports the 2021 at risk of poverty rate would have been 19.9%, more than eight percentage points higher than the 11.6% rate.
Individuals most at risk of poverty in 2021 were those who described themselves as ‘unable to work due to long-standing health problems’ (39.1%). The comparable rate for employed individuals was 4.4%.
Analysis by self-defined economic status shows that COVID-19 income supports had the greatest impact on the risk of poverty of unemployed respondents. The at risk of poverty rate for this group was 23.2%, while without COVID-19 income supports it would have been 44.1%. The at risk of poverty rate for employed respondents would have been 11.7% without COVID-19 income supports.
Analysis by age shows that COVID-19 income supports had a greater impact on the at risk of poverty rate of younger respondents. The rate for those aged 0-17 was reduced by almost 11 percentage points from 24.2% without COVID-19 income supports to 13.6%. For those aged 65 and over COVID-19 income supports reduced the at risk of poverty rate from 13.0% to 11.9% (a 1.1 percentage point reduction).
By household composition, the at risk of poverty rate for persons living in one adult households with children was 22.8%, without COVID-19 income supports this would have been 37.2%.
The consistent poverty rate, which includes those persons who are defined as being both at risk of poverty and who are also experiencing enforced deprivation, was 4.0%, compared with 4.7% in 2020. By household composition, individuals living in households where there was one adult and one or more children aged under 18 had the highest consistent poverty rate at 13.1%. The consistent poverty rate was lowest for individuals living in households consisting of three or more adults and no children (2.2%).
Income from the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS)
The median household disposable income in SILC 2021 was €46,471, an increase of €2,556 (+5.8%) from 2020 (€43,915). Without COVID-19 income supports there would have been a 6.2% decrease in year on year median household disposable income. Household disposable income rose as the highest level of education attained by the head of household increased. Where the head of household had an educational attainment of primary level or below, the median household disposable income was €24,660, compared with €63,914 for those with a third level degree or above.
Making Ends Meet
Households were asked to rate their self-perceived level of difficulty in making ends meet, with the answer options being: ‘with great difficulty’; ‘with difficulty’; ‘with some difficulty’; ‘fairly easily’; ‘easily’; ‘very easily’.
Four in ten households (42.0%) said they had at least some difficulty in making ends meet in SILC 2021, compared with 46.5% of households in 2020. In 2021, 5.6% of households said they experienced ‘great difficulty’ in making ends meet. Analysis by household composition shows that this rate is highest for households consisting of one adult and one or more children aged under 18 (15.9%), and lowest for households consisting of two adults, with at least one aged 65 or over (2.4%).
Of households that pay rent, 16.2% reported that in the 12-month period prior to their date of interview there was at least one occasion when they did not pay their rent on time due to financial difficulties. Of owner-occupied households with an outstanding mortgage, 5.3% reported that they did not pay their mortgage on time due to financial difficulties on at least one occasion. Of the 99.3% of households that indicated they pay utility bills, 7.0% reported there was at least one occasion in the 12-month period prior to their date of interview when they went into arrears on a utility bill because of financial difficulty. The rate for households consisting of one adult and one or more children aged under 18 was 25.0%.”
The income reference period for SILC 2021 was the calendar year 2020. The COVID-19 income supports introduced by the government to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on household incomes affected households across the whole income distribution and changed the composition of income deciles. See Chapter 4. As these supports were not permanent, changes observed in the at risk of poverty rate may be temporary.
Some material deprivation questions in SILC are subjective in nature and could have been influenced by the temporary conditions respondents found themselves in during lockdown. Therefore, the reduction in the enforced deprivation and consistent poverty rates in 2021 may be temporary. With the release of SILC 2021 results, the results for 2020 have been reweighted to better reflect the estimated household distribution within the rental sector.
For further information on the impact of COVID-19 on SILC results and information on the impact of the adjustment of the 2020 weights on published SILC 2020 results, please see Background Notes.
Eva O'Regan (+353) 21 453 5243
or Brian Cahill
(087) 6280807 or (+353) 21 453 5173
or email ICW@CSO.ie
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