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Income Distribution

Social justice matters. That is why Social Justice Ireland publishes our annual socio-economic review. This book is about charting a course to a fairer Ireland. Social Justice Matters 2020 provides an analysis of the present situation on a wide range of issues and identifies a programme of initiatives and policies that can address our challenges in an integrated and sustainable manner.

The Central Statistics Office recently published the Household Finance and Consumption Survey 2018.  This is the only household survey that collects combined information on asset, income and debt levels of Irish households.  It provides us with a valuable data and insight into where wealth and assets are concentrated (both in terms of location and income deciles), and the levels of debt of Irish households. 

Ireland has one of the most unequal distributions of market income in the European Union. We rely heavily on our tax and social welfare systems to produce a more equal society. High rates of poverty and income inequality have been the norm in Irish society for some time. Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing on Income for an outline of a number of key challenges facing Ireland and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

A recent publication from the Central Statistics Office, Post-Primary Outcomes – Academic Years Ending 2012 & 2013, analyses outcomes in 2012 – 2017 for two post-primary academic cohorts; 2011/2012 and 2012/2013. It examines outcomes in terms of education and training, substantial employment, and earnings over time.

What income changes arose from the tax and benefit measures taken in Budget 2020? What are the effective tax rates now for different levels of income, and how do they compare with effective rates over time? Click here to see.

The negative impact on rural towns and communities from the potential fallout from Brexit is receiving welcome attention at present.  But what about the other threat to rural Ireland and regional development - the impact that automation and robotics will have on employment across the regions?  This issue should be front and centre as Government rolls out the Climate Action Plan and the National Development Plan.

Last week the Department of Finance noted that some of Taoiseach Varadkar’s key taxation promises could be “inequitable” and lead to increased benefits for higher earners while middle-income taxpayers lose out. In this article, we present a number of possible situations for comparison. In all cases the income tax reduction policy examined would carry a full year cost of between 1.3% and 1.5% of the total income taxation yield (€299m-€342m). Click here to see which are the fairest options for Government in Budget 2020.

Living in poverty is a reality for one in five children in Ireland.  This means that around 230,000 children in Ireland are living in families with incomes below the poverty line.  This is one of the main findings from Poverty Focus 2019.  How long more can we afford to ignore these children and their living standards?  This issue can be addressed effectively.  Child poverty can be eliminated.

What are the latest data and trends on poverty in Ireland and why is life on a low income the norm for a large proportion of our society?  Social Justice Ireland’s annual Poverty Focus examines the nature and experience of poverty in Ireland and sets out a series of policy solutions. 


At such an uncertain time, domestically and globally, the government needs to make a centralised commitment to lift our most vulnerable out of poverty and to prevent any more people from falling into poverty. 

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