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Summary of Main Results

One in four households consisting of one adult with children were in arrears on utility bills

CSO statistical publication, , 11am
Table 1.1 Summary of main results
Nominal household disposable income
Nominal equivalised disposable income per individual
At risk of poverty threshold
(60% of median income)14,40815,158
Poverty & deprivation rates%%
At risk of poverty rate13.211.6
Deprivation rate114.313.8
Deprivation rate for those at risk of poverty35.334.1
Consistent poverty rate4.74.0
Income equality indicators
Gini coefficient (%)28.527.0
Income quintile share ratio4.13.8
1 Experienced two or more types of enforced deprivation.

The main results for 2021 are summarised below:

Poverty and Deprivation

  • The at risk of poverty rate was 11.6% in SILC 2021, compared with 13.2% in 2020.
  • Those most at risk of poverty were individuals who described their Principal Economic Status (PES) as ‘unable to work due to long-standing health problems’ (39.1%), compared with 4.4% of employed persons.
  • Enforced deprivation was experienced by 13.8% of the population.
  • The most commonly experienced item of deprivation in SILC 2021 was the ‘inability to afford to replace any worn out furniture’ (16.5%), followed by being ‘unable to afford new (not second-hand) clothes’ (8.9%) and being ‘unable to afford to have family or friends for a drink or meal once a month’ (8.6%).
  • The consistent poverty rate was 4.0%, i.e. persons both at risk of poverty and experiencing enforced deprivation.
  • Persons with a PES of ‘unable to work due to long-standing health problems’ were most likely to be living in consistent poverty (19.2%), compared with 0.9% of employed persons.
  • If rent and mortgage interest payments were deducted from disposable income, the at risk of poverty rate using the standard at risk of poverty threshold of €15,158 would have been 19.0%.

Household Arrears and Making Ends Meet

  • Four in ten households (42.0%) said they had at least some difficulty in making ends meet in 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 was 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%).
  • In 2021, of households making mortgage or rent payments, more than one in ten (11%) said they had failed to make a payment on time, at least once in the past 12 months, due to financial difficulties. By tenure, the corresponding rates were 5.3% of owner-occupied households with an outstanding mortgage, and 16.2% of households making rental payments.
  • Of the 99.3% of households that indicated they pay utility bills, 7.0% reported that 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 experiencing deprivation was 33.0%, compared with 2.8% of households not experiencing deprivation.


  • The median disposable household income in SILC 2021 was €46,471, an increase of €2,556 (+5.8%) from 2020 (€43,915).
  • Households with three or more persons at work had the highest median household disposable income (€96,046), compared with €25,394 for households with no one at work.
  • The median household disposable income for owner-occupied households was €52,926 in SILC 2021, an increase of €3,108 (+6.2%) from the previous year. The corresponding figure for rented and rent-free households increased by 3.7% to €37,702.
  • Taking into account the number of adults and children in a household, the median equivalised disposable income in SILC 2021 was €25,264, representing an increase of €1,251 (5.2%) from the previous year.
  • Persons ‘unable to work due to long-standing health problems’ had the lowest median equivalised disposable income, at €16,604, compared with €30,266 for employed persons. 

Income Inequality

  • Looking at the distribution of income, the poorest 20% of the population had 9.6% of the nation’s equivalised disposable income, while the richest 20% had 36.5%.
  • The quintile share ratio stood at 3.8, indicating that the total income of the richest 20% was almost four times that of the poorest 20%.
  • The Gini coefficient, was 27.0% in SILC 2021, compared with 28.5% in 2020.

Impact of COVID-19 Income Supports on Poverty and Income

  • Without COVID-19 income supports, analysis shows that the at risk of poverty rate (using the standard at risk of poverty threshold of €15,158) would have been 19.9%, more than eight percentage points higher than the 11.6% rate for those with supports.
  • The at risk of poverty rate without supports, for those who described their Principal Economic Status (PES) as employed, was more than double the rate with supports (11.7% compared with 4.4%). For unemployed persons the rate would have increased from 23.2% with supports to 44.1% without supports.
  • Median disposable household income increased by 5.8% from SILC 2020 to 2021 but would have fallen by 6.2% without supports.
  • COVID-19 income supports accounted for a similar proportion (between 7.4% and 10.8%) of total net household disposable income in each decile from the 2nd to the 8th decile. The 1st decile had the smallest proportion of income accounted for by supports with just 0.6% of income coming from this source followed by the 10th decile with 4.1%.
  • In SILC 2021, households in the first household disposable income decile received on average just under €80 in COVID-19 income supports compared to almost €5,780 by those households in the top decile. Deciles 6 to 10 all received an average payment of greater than €5,000 in income reference year 2020, while decile 1 to 5 all received less than €4,020 in COVID-19 income supports.
X-axis labelEmployment Income excluding WSSWage Subsidy SchemesPandemic Unemployment PaymentSocial Transfers excluding PUPOther Income
Decile 325.14.44.853.312.4
Decile 442.83.94.437.910.9
Decile 548.14.25.431.111.2
Decile 659.95.15.719.89.4
Decile 765.34.44.916.58.8
Decile 873.343.511.87.5
Decile 981.13.337.45.1
Decile 1080.72.12411.3

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