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Policy issues concerning Inequality

Without the social welfare system almost 50 per cent of the Irish population would have been living in poverty in 2014.  Adequate social welfare payments are required to prevent an increase in poverty.  Between 2010 and early 2016 inflation was 3.44 per cent - implying that a buying power of €188 in 2010 was equivalent to €194.50 by February 2016. 

Since the onset of the recession the number of people in poverty in Ireland has increased by more than 100,000.   Today there are more than 750,000 people living in poverty in Ireland; this is a major concern.  More than 57 per cent of those in poverty are not connected to the labour market; they are people who are retired, students, people in caring roles or people who are ill or people with a disability.

A brief snapshot on how Ireland is performing in terms of income distribution and some policy proposals.

Despite some modest gains in some regions in the world, millions of women are losing ground in their quest for equality in the world of work, according to a new report prepared by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The report, Women at Work: Trends 2016  examined data for up to 178 countries and concludes that inequality between women and men persists across a wide spectrum of the global labour market.

There are 1.3 million people experiencing deprivation in Ireland, an increase of 215,000 since this Government came to office in 2011.  The numbers experiencing deprivation have almost doubled since the crash of 2008.

US Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, Robert B. Reich has called for the introduction of a Basic Income system.  He has linked Basic Income to labor market uncertainty, to climate change strategy, and to automation.

The European Commission this week published the 2015 EU Youth Report. With regard to Ireland, the report reveals that Ireland recorded the highest fall in percentage points in its youth population since 2010 (-4 pp.). Ireland also recorded one of the largest proportions of young citizens leaving the country to settle in another EU Member State, although this trend is declining.

We are focussing far too much on the performance of the economy and not nearly enough on issues such as aging, social housing and sustainability, that have major implications for the wellbeing of individuals and society as a whole according to the National Social Monitor 2015 published by Social Justice Ireland.  It goes on to argue that a balance is required between the various aspects of life if the wellbeing of this and future generations is to be secured.

The cost of obesity could more than quadruple within the next 15 years to a total of €1,175 a year for every man woman and child in the State unless more is done to tackle the problem, a joint Irish Heart Foundation and Social Justice Ireland report has revealed.

Austerity policies in the EU have contributed to intense economic suffering, particularly for young people and other vulnerable social groups, a new report has found. 123 million EU citizens – one in every four – are at risk of poverty or social exclusion – an increase of 7 million in the six years up to 2013.  An extra 8.4 million people became unemployed in the same period and almost one quarter of economically active young people in the EU are unemployed.  Young people constitute the largest group in the EU that is underemployed and feels discouraged in looking for work.

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