One-Fifth of Households Have Little Work

Key Point

Almost one-in-five (19.1%) people in Ireland were living in households with very low work intensity in 2015. The proportion of children living in very low work intensity households in Ireland is also the highest in the EU.

Defining Very Low Work Intensity

Very Low Work Intensity (VLWI) measures people aged 0-59 years old living in households where the adults (those aged 18-591 ) worked less than 20 per cent of their total work potential during the past year 2.

How does Ireland compare to the rest of the EU?

Ireland has the highest share of people living in households with very low work intensity (19.1%) in the EU. Just over 700,000 people under the age of 60 in Ireland lived in VLWI households in 2015. The share of people living in VLWI households has been higher in Ireland than the EU average between 2005 and 2015. See figure 1.

Figure 1

(Source: Eurostat)

The share of people living in VLWI households in Ireland was more than double the EU share from 2009 to 2013. The ratio peaked in 2011 at 130%, when almost one-in-four people lived in VLWI households (24.2%). It has subsequently decreased to stand at 80% above the EU share in 2015. In Ireland, over 40% of low work intensity households are inhabited by a person with a disability3 .

Children in Very Low Work Intensity Households

Ireland has the highest share of children (those under 18 years old) living in VLWI households in the EU at 19.7%. This rate is more than twice the EU average (9.3%). See figure 2.

Figure 2

(Source: Eurostat)

There were 245,000 children living in VLWI households in Ireland in 2015. The share of children in Ireland in 2015 living in VLWI households across different age categories was:

• 17.9% of children under the age of 6 years (EU 9.2%)
• 18.6% of children aged 6 – 11 years (EU 9.3%)
• 22.6% of children aged 12 – 17 years (EU 9.4%)

In 2014, approximately one-in-five (19.7%) people in VLWI households in Ireland were single parent households. The proportion of single parent households in Ireland was close to twice the EU average (10.7%). Assisting such households to secure suitable childcare may contribute to a reduction in the share of single parents and young children living in VLWI households.




1 Students between 18 and 24 years old are excluded from this measure.

2 The work intensity indicator does not take account of illness, disability or caring duties within the home.

2 O’Rorke, G. (July, 2016)  ‘Characteristics and implications of the level of household joblessness in Ireland’

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