Employment and Disability
Census 2022 recorded 1,109,557 people "reported experiencing at least one long-lasting condition or difficulty to any extent" – that’s 22 per cent of the population. The report found that both these disabilities were strongly age-related.
Disabled persons generally cease their full-time education at an earlier age than the total population. According to the European Commission 2022 Country Report on Ireland, Ireland had higher than average early school leaving rates for people with disabilities (27.8 % vs the EU average of 23.6 %). Ireland has one of the widest early school leaving gaps between people with and without disabilities in the EU (22.5 percentage points vs the EU average of 12.6 percentage points).
The tertiary education attainment gap between people with and without disabilities is much wider than the EU average (24.6 percentage points vs the EU average of 13.2 percentage points), which aggravates inequalities in terms of access to employment and participation in society by this group.
There were 176,445 persons with a disability in the labour force giving a labour force participation rate of 30.2 per cent, compared with a rate of 61.4 per cent for the overall population. However, given the disproportionally large number of people aged 65 and over among the disabled population (34.9% compared with 13.4% of the general population), it is informative to examine the data for those aged 15 to 64 only. Among the total population in this age group participation rates were 78 per cent for men and 65.9 for women, while for those with disabilities the rates were 51.1 per cent and 42.2 per cent respectively.
Chart 1 shows the labour force participation rates by age. Top two lines are the male and female participation rates of the general population and the bottom two lines are the male and female participation rates of persons with a disability. The peak ages for labour force participation for those with disabilities were 30-34 years for men at 68.6 per cent, and 25-29 for women at 63.4 per cent. In the general population, the male participation rate peaks between 30-34 years at 93.1 per cent, while female participation peaks at 82.7 per cent between the ages of 30 and 34.
Chart 1: Labour Force participation rate for persons aged 15 and over by gender, 2016