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Results and Analysis

A CSO Frontier Series Output- What is this?

This release has been compiled during the COVID-19 crisis. The results contained in this release reflect some of the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 situation. For further information see Background Notes

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SILC data 2020 to 2022 was revised on 07 March 2024 due to changes made to weights, reflecting updated household population benchmarks, because of the availability of Census 2022 data.
The data in Poverty Insights - Income Reference Periods 2018 to 2020 was published on 17 December 2021 and does not reflect these revisions. For the most up to date SILC data, which reflect revised population benchmarks from Census revisions, please see SILC 2023 or SILC PxStat.

Results from this publication ‘Poverty Insights - Income Reference Periods 2018 to 2020’ were updated at 11am on 09/06/2022 due to changes made in SILC 2020 results. In SILC, weights are applied to the data to ensure the results are reflective of the population as a whole. The survey weights for 2020 SILC results have been adjusted to better reflect the estimated household distribution within the rental sector. While this has not impacted the overall at risk of poverty rate (unchanged at 13.2%) for income reference year 2019, it has resulted in a reduction in the at risk of poverty rate (12.8% compared with 13.2%) for income reference year 2020.  Please see Revision Information Note  which compares published and revised main results. 

The at risk of poverty rate was 12.8% for calendar year income 2020, 13.2% for 2019, while for 2018 it was 13.4%. See table 2.1 & figure 2 .1.

Equivalisation is a method of attributing household income to individual household members. An individual is defined as being at risk of poverty if their equivalised disposable income is under the at risk of poverty threshold, i.e. 60% of the median equivalised disposable income. See At Risk of Poverty Indicators Explained (PDF 717KB)  

The consistent poverty measure is defined as people who are both at risk of poverty and experiencing enforced deprivation (experienced two or more of the eleven types of deprivation). The consistent poverty rate for the income reference year 2020 was 3.9%, compared to 4.7% in 2019 and 5.3% in 2018. See table 2.1 & figure 2.1.

X-axis labelAt Risk of PovertyConsistent Poverty
201813.45.3
201913.24.7
202012.83.9

An analysis of the at risk of poverty rates by age group shows that the rates decreased for the younger age groups between income reference years 2018 to 2020. The at risk of poverty rate for persons Aged 18-34 was 11.3% in 2020, falling from 12.9% in 2019 and 14.5% in 2018. Conversely, the rate increased year on year for those Aged 65 and over, where the at risk of poverty rate increased from 6.7% in 2018 to 9.8% in 2019, and then to 11.3% in 2020. See table 2.1 & figure 2.2.

Furthermore, consistent poverty rates fell across all age groups in 2020 from 2019, except for those Aged 65 and over, which increased from 1.0% in 2019 to 1.6% in 2020. The corresponding figure was 2.2% in 2018. See table 2.1.

X-axis label201820192020
0-1716.516.414.4
18-3414.512.911.3
35-4910.911.211.2
50-6416.214.615.8
65+6.79.811.3

Further analysis of the risk of poverty by socio-demographic characteristics showed that those most at risk of poverty in income reference year 2020 were individuals who were Unable to work due to long-standing health problems (34.0%) and individuals who were Unemployed (33.5%). A similar rate can be seen for 2019 and 2018.

In comparison, individuals who were Employed had the least risk of poverty in all three income reference years. In 2020, 6.5% of Employed were at risk of poverty. This rate was unchanged from 6.5% in 2019 and increased slightly from 6.6% in 2018. See table 2.1 & figure 2.3.

X-axis labelFulfilling domestic tasksStudent, pupilUnable to work due to long-standing health problemsRetiredUnemployedEmployed
20202015.43411.433.56.5
201920.720.333.49.833.26.5
201821.522.832.77.738.46.6

Single adult (aged under 65) households had the highest risk of poverty in income reference year 2020 at 32.2% compared with all other household compositions. The rate increased from 28.9% in 2019 and 31.5% in 2018. Households with One adult and one or more children aged under 18 had the second highest risk of poverty in 2020 at 24.4%, which decreased from 31.0% in 2019 and 29.0% in 2018. Two adult households where at least one adult is aged 65 or over had the lowest at risk of poverty rates across all three income reference periods, at 5.6% in 2020, 4.5% in 2019 and 5.3% in 2018. See table 2.1.

Median household disposable income for calendar year 2020 was €44,549, compared with €43,915 in 2019 and €42,402 in 2018. 

Disposable household income is gross household income less total tax, social insurance contributions, occupational and private pension contributions and inter-household transfers paid.

The median equivalised disposable income for calendar year 2020 was €24,861 which increased from €24,013 in 2019 and €22,859 in 2018. See table 2.3 and figure 2.4.

X-axis labelMedian Equivalised Disposable IncomeMedian Household Disposable Income
20182285942402
20192401343915
20202486144549
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This section uses experimental methods to analyse the impact COVID-19 income supports have had on poverty rates and income in the 2020 calendar income reference year for 2020 SILC respondents.

We first show at risk of poverty rates, both With and Without selected COVID-19 income supports, including the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), by the characteristics of the household and household reference person. This is followed by a breakdown of income into its components by decile and the year-on-year income changes across equivalised and household income deciles.

It must be noted that the counterfactual Without supports makes no attempt to estimate likely incomes from receipt of ‘traditional’ out-of-work supports, like Jobseeker's Allowance or Jobseeker's Benefit, that an individual may have been entitled to receive had COVID-19 income supports not been available. Thus, caution is advised when interpreting these results.

Analysis of the impact of COVID-19 income supports on poverty rates shows that Without these supports the at risk of poverty rate would have been 21.0%, over 8 percentage points higher than the 12.8% rate With supportsWithout the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), but including WSS, the at risk of poverty rate have would have been 16.8% and Without the Wage Subsidy Schemes (WSS), but including PUP, the rate would have been 15.7%. See table 2.4 & figure 2.5.  

X-axis labelAt Risk of Poverty
With Supports12.8
Without WSS15.7
Without PUP16.8
Without Supports21

The pandemic and the resulting COVID-19 supports impacted people and households differently across Irish society. Figure 2.6 illustrates how the COVID-19 income supports impacted the at risk of poverty rate in the various age groups. It is evident that younger age groups were more impacted by COVID-19 income supports than older groups in 2020. Those Aged 0-17 were the most effected as their risk of poverty would have been 25.3% Without supports, almost 11 percentage points higher than the rate of 14.4% With supports included.

Those Aged 18-34 were the next most supported age group, as the risk of poverty rate Without supports would have been 22.1%, almost 11 percentage points higher than the rate of 11.3% With supports included.

Those Aged 65 and over were least affected by COVID-19 income supports with their at risk of poverty rate decreasing from 11.8% Without supports to 11.3% With supports

With supports, the 50-64 age group was most likely to be at risk of poverty (15.8%), followed by children Aged 0-17 (14.4%). Without supports children Aged 0-17 would have been most likely to be at risk of poverty, with over one in four (25.3%) being at risk. See table 2.4 & figure 2.6.

X-axis labelWith SupportsWithout WSSWithout PUPWithout Supports
0-1714.418.32025.3
18-3411.314.916.422.1
35-4911.214.615.420.6
50-6415.818.118.621.7
65+11.311.411.611.8

SILC 2020 survey respondents described their principal economic status (PES) when they were surveyed at some point in the first six months of 2020. This period overlapped with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, for this reason the economic status of individuals may not always seem in line with the types of income received. For example, it is possible for individuals to have described their status as Employed in the first three months of 2020 and subsequently become unemployed and have received Pandemic Unemployment Payments in 2020. Also, as income is equivalised, income received from other household members is attributed to all members of the household irrespective of their PES. So, for example, a Student / pupil may have been allocated equivalised income from PUP but have not claimed the payment themselves. Their parent or another person in the same household may have received Pandemic Unemployment Payments, which is then, through equivalisation, allocated to all members of the household.

The at risk of poverty rate Without supports, for those who described their principal economic status as Employed, was more than double the rate With supports (15.6% compared with 6.5%). For those that described their principal economic status as Student, pupil the Without support rate was 26.5%, over 11 percentage points higher than the With support rate of 15.4%.

A further analysis by socio-demographic characteristics showed that those most at risk of poverty in 2020 calendar year were those individuals who were Unable to work due to long-standing health problems, with a rate, With supports, of 34.0%, followed by individuals who were Unemployed (33.5%). Without COVID-19 income supports those who were Unemployed would have been most at risk of poverty with a rate of 43.3%, an increase of 9.8 percentage points.

The PUP had the largest impact on reducing the likelihood of being at risk of poverty for Unemployed individuals reducing their rate by 6.1 percentage points. The groups next most impacted by PUP were Students or pupils and Employed whose risk of poverty rates reduced by 5.7 and 4.3 percentage points respectively.

The WSS had the largest impact on reducing the likelihood of being at risk of poverty for Students or pupils, reducing their rate by 3.7 percentage points. The groups next most impacted by WSS were Unemployed and Employed whose risk of poverty rates reduced by 3.3 percentage points. See table 2.4 & figure 2.7.

Without supports Single adult households with one or more children had an at risk of poverty rate in 2020 of 36.0%. When supports are included their rate falls over 11 percentage points to 24.4%. With supports Single adult households under 65 years without children are most at risk of poverty with a rate of 32.2%.

Those individuals with a highest level of education of Lower secondary are most at risk of poverty in 2020 Without supports (rate of 26.3%) while those with No formal or primary education are most at risk of poverty in With supports (rate of 19.4%). COVID-19 income supports reduce the at risk of poverty rate of those with a highest level of education of Higher secondary or Post leaving certificate, reducing them by 9.7 percentage points when supports were included. See table 2.4.

X-axis labelWith SupportsWithout WSSWithout PUPWithout Supports
Employed6.59.810.815.6
Unemployed33.536.839.643.3
Retired11.411.611.712.3
Unable to work due to long-standing health problems3435.635.438.4
Student, pupil15.419.121.126.5
Fulfilling domestic tasks2022.922.426.2

Figure 2.8 looks at the breakdown of income components by decile of net equivalised disposable income. Net equivalised disposable income accounts for the size and composition of households and thus has a different distribution to net household disposable income which is analysed below. All individuals are split into 10 groups (deciles) based upon their income, with the 10% of individuals with the lowest net equivalised income in the 1st decile and the 10% of individuals with the highest net equivalised income in the 10th decile.

In 2020 Social transfers excluding PUP accounted for 69.6% of net equivalised disposable income for those in the 1st decile and Employment income excluding WSS accounted for 18.0% of income in this decile. As you move up the deciles the proportion of income from social transfers decreases, with 4.5% of net equivalised disposable income coming from this source in the 10th decile. Employment income accounts for a greater proportion of net equivalised disposable income as you move up the income distribution, up to the 9th decile, where it accounted for 79.8% of income. In the 10th decile the Employment income proportion fell to 77.7%, while other income increased to 16.0%, up from 9.2% in the 9th decile and 1.6% in the 2nd decile. 

COVID-19 income supports accounted for between 8.1% and 14.0% of total net equivalised disposable income in each decile from the 1st to the 7th decile. From the 7th decile and up the proportion of income accounted for by COVID-19 supports decreased, with just 1.8% of income coming from this source in the 10th decile.

The PUP accounted for between 0.7% (10th decile) and 7.9% (5th decile) of net equivalised disposable income across the distribution. The WSS accounted for between 1.1% (10th decile) and 6.7% (4th decile) of income across the distribution. See table 2.5 & figure 2.8.

X-axis labelOther IncomeSocial transfers excluding PUPPandemic Unemployment PaymentWage Subsidy SchemesEmployment Income excluding WSS
Decile 1269.67.4318
Decile 21.666.24.93.224.1
Decile 3446.16.54.539
Decile 44.332.97.36.748.8
Decile 56.625.27.9555.3
Decile 67.119.85.94.862.5
Decile 76.912.23.95.471.7
Decile 810.39.12.43.774.5
Decile 99.26.41.72.979.8
Decile 10164.50.71.177.7

Looking at the mean equivalised value of COVID-19 income supports by net equivalised disposable income deciles, figure 2.9 shows that those in the 5th decile had the highest average COVID-19 support payments with an average payment of €3,028 in 2020, followed by the 6th (€2,785) and 4th (€2,739) deciles. The 1st decile received the lowest amount in COVID-19 income supports with an average of €1,070. This is followed by 10th decile which received an average of €1,178 in COVID-19 supports. Deciles 4 to 7 all received an average payment of greater than €2,700 in income reference year 2020.

The 5th decile received the largest average amount from PUP (€1,855) while those in the 7th decile received the most from WSS (€1,592). Those individuals in the 10th decile received the least PUP amount (€470) while the 1st decile had the lowest average WSS amount of €305. See table 2.5 & figure 2.9.

X-axis labelPandemic Unemployment PaymentWage Subsidy Schemes
Decile 1764305
Decile 2753494
Decile 31173806
Decile 415151389
Decile 518551173
Decile 615411244
Decile 711471592
Decile 88181249
Decile 96751148
Decile 10470708

Figure 2.10 looks at the breakdown of income components by decile for net household disposable income. The average household size in each decile increases as you move up the income distribution as households with more people tend to have greater income. For households in the 1st decile almost 90% of household disposable income was received through social transfers excluding PUP, while employment income excluding WSS accounted for 5.8% of income. Moving up through the deciles the proportion of income from social transfers decreases, with households in decile 10 receiving 4.7% of their income from this source. Employment income accounts for a greater proportion of net household disposable income as you move up the income distribution up to the 9th and 10th deciles where it accounted for 78.4% of household income. In the 10th decile other income (which includes occupational pensions, rental income dividends etc.) accounted for 13.1% of household income, up from 13.1% in the 4th decile and 2.4% in the 1st decile.

COVID-19 income supports accounted for a similar proportion (between 7.4% and 11.5%) of total net household disposable income in each decile from the 3rd to the 9th decile. The 1st decile had the smallest proportion of income accounted for by supports with just 2.1% of income coming from this source followed by the 10th decile with 3.8%.

The PUP accounted for between 1.8% (1st decile) and 6.3% (6th decile) of net disposable household income across the distribution. The WSS accounted for between 0.3% (1st decile) and 5.2% (6th decile) of household income across the distribution. See table 2.6 & figure 2.10.

X-axis labelOther IncomeSocial transfers excluding PUPPandemic Unemployment PaymentWage Subsidy Schemes Employment Income excluding WSS
Decile 12.489.61.80.35.8
Decile 29.368.54.22.315.7
Decile 312.855.73.54.323.7
Decile 413.139.74.45.237.6
Decile 510.931.74.73.549.2
Decile 611.224.66.35.252.9
Decile 79.316.44.64.265.5
Decile 86.814.23.94.470.6
Decile 96.18.13.4478.4
Decile 1013.14.721.878.4

During 2020, households in the first household disposable income decile received on average just over €200 in COVID-19 income supports compared to almost €5,500 by those households in the top decile. Households in the 9th decile received the highest amount of COVID-19 income support with an average payment of €6,427 in 2020 while households in the 1st decile received the lowest amount in COVID-19 income supports with an average of €226. 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 €3,500 in COVID-19 income supports.

The 6th decile received the largest amount from PUP while the 9th decile received the most from WSS. The 1st decile received the least average amount in both PUP and WSS. See table 2.6 & figure 2.11.

X-axis labelPandemic Unemployment PaymentWage Subsidy Schemes
Decile 118937
Decile 2799436
Decile 39611177
Decile 415111757
Decile 519601449
Decile 630572531
Decile 726962473
Decile 827273043
Decile 929273500
Decile 1028812596

Individuals were divided into ten equal sized groups (deciles) based on their 2019 net equivalised disposable income, with the lowest 10% in the first decile and the top 10% in the 10th decile. The mean equivalised disposable income in each decile in 2019 was compared with the mean equivalised disposable income of the same individuals in 2020, With and Without COVID-19 income supports. This is illustrated in figure 2.12, the orange line shows the change in income Without COVID-19 income supports, the blue line With supports.

Individuals in the 1st 2019 decile had the largest annual income growth in net equivalised disposable income including COVID-19 income supports where income increased by 20.0% in the year, Without supports the annual growth would have been 3.2%. Thus, COVID-19 income supports increased annual growth by 16.8 percentage points for individuals in the 1st 2019 decile, representing the largest gap between With and Without supports income growth of the ten deciles. Those individuals in all other 2019 deciles from decile 2 to decile 10 would have seen a fall in their equivalised disposable income between 2019 and 2020 Without COVID-19 income supports. When supports are included average income increased year-on-year in all deciles, apart from the 9th and 10th deciles. Equivalised income of individuals in the 10th decile fell by 7.3% With COVID-19 income supports from 2019 to 2020, and would have fallen by 9.2% Without COVID-19 income supports. This gap of 1.9 percentage points represents the smallest gap between the With and Without supports income growth of the ten deciles.

The gap between the orange and blue lines (those With and Without supports respectively), in figure 2.12 below, illustrates the scale of the mitigating effects of the COVID-19 income supports and the relative effect they had across the distribution. Those in the lower half of the income distribution (first five decile groups) benefited most from the supports, relative to their pre-COVID-19 income. The relative benefits from COVID-19 income supports diminish from the 6th decile to the 10th decile, as the gap between the With and Without supports lines reduce and converge.

Individuals with higher equivalised income in 2019 benefited from COVID-19 supports as well as those with lower incomes. For example, in the top half of the distribution, the gap between equivalised income growth With and Without supports ranged from 1.9 (10th decile) to 9.4 (6th decile) percentage points. The gap in the bottom half of the distribution was between 10.5 (2nd decile) and 16.8 (1st decile) percentage points. See table 2.7 & figure 2.12.

X-axis labelWithout COVID-19 Income SupportsWith COVID-19 Income Supports
Decile 13.220
Decile 2-0.210.3
Decile 3-3.18.2
Decile 4-5.97.2
Decile 5-8.64.2
Decile 6-5.73.7
Decile 7-2.55.4
Decile 8-4.71.8
Decile 9-5.1-0.2
Decile 10-9.2-7.3

The year-on-year change in net disposable household income would have fallen in all 2019 deciles, apart from the 1st decile in the year to 2020 Without Supports.  When supports are included average income increased year-on-year in all deciles, apart from the 10th decile, as illustrated in figure 2.13.

Further analysing the annual growth in household income by decile, it is notable that the effects of COVID-19 income supports were more evenly spread across the household income distribution when compared to the equivalised income distribution in figure 2.12. The gap between the year-on-year change in household income With supports (blue line) and Without supports (orange line) was relatively consistent between the 2nd and 8th deciles, where the gap ranged between 8.0 and 10.7 percentage points. Households in the 1st decile had the smallest gap between the annual income growth, With and Without supports, with a 3.5 percentage point gap. Households in the 10th and 9th deciles were next least impacted by the COVID-19 income supports with a gap between their annual income growth, With and Without support, of 4.3 and 6.5 percentage points respectively.

X-axis labelWithout COVID-19 Income SupportsWith COVID-19 Income Supports
Decile 17.210.7
Decile 2-2.78
Decile 3-2.15.9
Decile 4-4.94.9
Decile 5-2.56.1
Decile 6-4.95.6
Decile 7-8.50.4
Decile 8-5.63
Decile 9-2.83.7
Decile 10-9.1-4.8
Table 2.1 At risk of poverty and consistent poverty rates by demographic characteristics and income reference year

Table 2.2 Profile of population at risk of poverty and in consistent poverty by demographic characteristics and income reference year

Table 2.3 Household and equivalised disposable income by income reference year

Table 2.4 Impact of COVID-19 supports on at risk of poverty and consistent poverty rates by demographic characteristics and income reference year 2020

Table 2.5 Composition of net equivalised disposable income by decile, income reference year 2020

Table 2.6 Composition of net household disposable income by decile, income reference year 2020

Table 2.7 Year-on-year % change in net equivalised and household disposable income, with and without COVID-19 income supports, by deciles and income reference years 2019 to 2020

PxStat Tables are here

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