Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this book or follow this series

Why is Relative Income Poverty so High in Ireland?


Author Info

  • Callan, Tim

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))

  • Keeney, Mary J.

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))

  • Nolan, Brian

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))

  • Maitre, Bertrand

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))


Although relative income poverty rates vary from year to year, the rankings of different industrialised countries according to these poverty measures tend to be rather stable. Ireland is consistently among a group of countries with relative income poverty rates considerably above the European Union average (though not as high as the USA). This has not changed over the course of Irelands recent economic boom, since our relative income poverty rates themselves have not fallen indeed they have generally risen over that period. This study asks why Ireland has higher relative income poverty rates than many of our EU partners? More specifically, it explores what we can learn from an in-depth comparison with a number of other European countries, including some of the best performers in the European Union in terms of that indicator. This approach has parallels with a number of developments in the social and employment policy agenda at EU level. Atkinson (2000) notes that the Belgian government proposed that all member states should seek to match the performance of the three best states in combating poverty. This links closely with the open method of co-ordination agreed at Lisbon, a process in which clear and mutually agreed objectives are defined, after which peer review, on the basis of national action plans, enables EU Member States to compare practices and learn from each other. This method respects and is in fact built upon local diversity. (Vandenbroucke, 2002). Similarly, the UKs new targets for child poverty include a criterion that the UK rate should be among the best in Europe. We begin (Chapter 2) by discussing the nature of relative income poverty rates as poverty measures, their limitations and uses and their growing importance in an EU context. Chapter 3 then looks at how relative income poverty rates actually vary across EU member states, using the latest harmonised data. Chapter 4 reviews some of the main findings of previous investigations into cross-country differences in relative income poverty rates, and undertakes a new investigation of the role of wage inequality in explaining differences in relative income poverty. Our research then employs a variety of analytic approaches to see what is distinctive about Ireland. The implications for relative income poverty rates of differences in age structure, household structure, and labour market conditions are explored in Chapter 5, focusing on five countries. This is done by simulating what the relative income poverty rate would be if each of these countries shared a common age structure, household structure or pattern of unemployment and labour market participation. This exercise and other studies carried out elsewhere point towards the importance of social protection as a key influence. In Chapter 6 we therefore look in detail at social protection spending in Ireland compared with other EU countries. What would be the impact on relative poverty if the level and/or structure of social protection spending in Ireland were to become similar to that of countries with low poverty rates, such as Denmark and the Netherlands? We explore this question using SWITCH, the Irish tax-benefit model. The main findings are drawn together in Chapter 7.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

as in new window
This book is provided by Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in its series Research Series with number PRS53 and published in 2004.

ISBN: 0707002281
Handle: RePEc:esr:resser:prs53

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Whitaker Square, Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin 2
Phone: (353-1) 863 2000
Fax: (353-1) 863 2100
Web page:
More information through EDIRC

Related research



References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. François Bourguignon & Francisco H. G. Ferreira & Phillippe G. Leite, 2002. "Beyond Oaxaca-Blinder: Accounting for Differences in Household Income Distributions Across Countries," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 478, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  2. Russell, Helen & Layte, Richard & Maitre, Bertrand & O'Connell, Philip J. & Whelan, Christopher T., 2004. "Work-Poor Households: The Welfare Implications of Changing Household Employment Patterns," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number PRS52.
  3. Nolan, Brian & Gannon, Brenda & Layte, Richard & Watson, Dorothy & Whelan, Christopher T. & Williams, James, 2002. "Monitoring Poverty Trends in Ireland: Results from the 2000 Living in Ireland survey," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number PRS45.
  4. Caminada, Koen & Goudswaard, Kees, 2001. "International trends in income inequality and social policy," MPRA Paper 20181, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Christopher Heady & Theodore Mitrakos & Panos Tsakloglou, 2001. "The distributional impact of social transfers in the European Union: evidence from the ECHP," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 22(4), pages 547-565., December.
  6. Michael Förster & Mark Pearson, 2002. "Income Distribution and Poverty in the OECD Area: Trends and Driving Forces," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2002(1), pages 7-38.
  7. Martin Biewen & Stephen P. Jenkins, 2002. "Accounting for Poverty Differences between the United States, Great Britain, and Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 311, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  8. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Cross-Country Inequality Trends," NBER Working Papers 8832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality In The United States, 1913-1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-39, February.
  10. repec:ese:emodwp:em0-99 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Aaberge, Rolf, et al, 2002. "Income Inequality and Income Mobility in the Scandinavian Countries Compared to the United States," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 48(4), pages 443-69, December.
  12. repec:ese:emodwp:em3-00 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Whelan, Christopher T. & Layte, Richard & Maitre, Bertrand & Gannon, Brenda & Nolan, Brian & Watson, Dorothy & Williams, James, 2003. "Monitoring Poverty trends in Ireland: Results from the 2001 Living in Ireland Survey," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number PRS51.
  14. repec:ese:emodwp:em3-02 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. repec:ese:iserwp:2002-14 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Nolan, Brian & Whelan, Christopher T., 1996. "Resources, Deprivation, and Poverty," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198287858, September.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Halpin, Brendan & Hill, John, 2007. "Active Labour Market Programmes and Poverty Dynamics in Ireland: 1994-2001," MPRA Paper 10340, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Wasiu Adekunle Are, 2012. "Growth and Income Redistribution Components of Changes in Poverty: A Decomposition Analysis for Ireland, 1987-2005," Working Papers 201231, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  3. repec:ese:emodwp:em1-05 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Wasiu Adekunle Are, 2012. "Poverty-Reducing Directions of Indirect Marginal Tax Reforms in Ireland," Working Papers 201230, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  5. Anthony Barnes Atkinson, 2005. "EUROMOD and the Development of EU Social Policy," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 467, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  6. Maitre, Bertrand & Nolan, Brian & Whelan, Christopher T., 2006. "Reconfiguring the Measurement of Deprivation and Consistent Poverty in Ireland," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number PRS58, July.
  7. Hill, John & Halpin, Brendan, 2008. "The Role of Active Labour Market Programmes in Employment Policy," MPRA Paper 10498, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Halpin, Brendan & Hill, John, 2008. "Active Labour Market Programmes and Poverty Dynamics in Ireland," MPRA Paper 10335, University Library of Munich, Germany.


This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


Access and download statistics


When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:esr:resser:prs53. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sarah Burns).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.