Understanding socio-economic inequalities affecting older people

  • Northern Ireland
  • Republic of Ireland

12th June 2014, CARDI

Paul McGill, Strategic Research Officer, CARDI

In 2012, CARDI was asked by The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland to carry out a series of research projects on ageing in Ireland, North and South. This research project, 'Understanding socio-economic inequalities affecting older people, was carried out by Paul McGill, CARDI. The research sought to answer the following questions:

  • Are there inequalities that affect older people as a group compared with younger people, or inequalities that exist within the older population?
  • How are these inequalities changing over time?
  • Do these socio-economic inequalities have a detrimental impact on older people or on a substantial number of them?
  • How can any harmful socio-economic inequalities be reduced or eliminated and what are the implications for policy-making?

Key Findings*:

  • In RoI the poorest older people had a rise of €32 per week between 2004 and 2011 in total incomes while those with the highest incomes had a rise of €255 (CSO 2013).
  • Total incomes of the poorest pensioner couples in NI did not change between 2003-06 and 2008-11 but the best off had a rise of £37 per week (DSD 2013).
  • Employees aged 60+ earn €10,000 less per year than earners in their peak years in RoI and £2,400 less in NI (CSO Database and NISRA 2012).
  • The richest older people in RoI earn 14 times more from employment than the poorest.
  • In NI it is 36 times more for single pensioners and 44 times more for pensioner couples (CSO 2013; NISRA 2013).
  • The gap in weekly earnings between top and bottom earners aged 60+ in NI rose from £294 to £430 between 2005 and 2012 (NISRA 2012).
  • In the two years 2009-2011 the incomes of the poorest older people in ROI declined by €24 per week (11.4%) (CSO, 2013).

* the ‘richest older people’ refers to the highest fifth by income while the ‘poorest older people’ refers to the lowest fifth by income.

Read the full report here.

Read the summary here.