One third of families can’t afford or cut back essentials




Almost a third of families cannot afford or have cut back on the essentials, it has emerged.

According to the latest Growing Up in Ireland survey, 31% of families either could not afford the basics or had cut back.

It found that 13% were behind with utility bills and 11% with the rent or mortgage.

The survey of 7,400 children, now aged 13, and their families, shows that the number of families finding it difficult to make ends meet more than doubled following four years of economic recession.

It found that 61% of the families studied were experiencing some or great difficulty making ends meet compared to 29% when the children were aged nine in 2007/08.

Seven out of 10 families had experienced a wage reduction, while 55% had their social welfare payment reduced. More than half said they could not afford luxuries any more.

Economic strain was more likely to be experienced by one-parent than two-parent families.

More than a third (36%) and almost a half (47%) of larger ones were experiencing great difficulty or difficulty making ends meet.

In comparison, the study found that around 20% of two-parent families were experiencing economic strain.

More than twice as many families in the least educated group was in difficulty because of the recession compared to those with a degree.

The study found that just 6% of all the families said it had no effect at all.

One in five teens lived in one-parent families, with 4% moving from a two-parent to one-parent family between the age of nine and 13 and another 4% going from a one-parent to two-parent unit.

The percentage of unemployed fathers has increased from 4% to 10% and the number of unemployed mothers has gone from virtually none to 3%.

The study of the 13-year-olds, found that the vast majority got on well with their parents.

More young people said they spent time talking to their mother (70%) than to their father (60%).

However, dads are cool to be with — 72% said they did fun things with their father, compared to 63% who enjoyed doing stuff with their mother.

Just under half (46%) had discussed sex or relationship issues with their parents — 42% of boys and 51% of girls.

Only 10% of the teens said teachers would be the most likely source of information or advice.

Of concern is that 14% of 13-year-olds said they would go nowhere for information or advice on sex or relationship issues. This was stated by almost twice as many boys (18%) as girls (10%).

Research professor with the Economic Social and Research Institute, James Williams, said the study provided a wealth of information about change at an individual and family level.

Growing Up in Ireland is a government-funded longitudinal study based on interviews with the children and their families.

* www.growingup.ie

Growing Up

Physical activity and obesity

* 60% of 13-year-olds exercised for six or more days in the last 14. Boys were more likely to exercise than girls.

* 26% were either overweight or obese at 13 years — 20% were overweight and 6% obese.

* Girls more likely to be overweight or obese than boys — 30% compared to 23%.

* Just over half who were overweight at 9, remained overweight at 13, with 11% becoming obese.

* More than three-quarters of children who were obese were exercising to lose weight, compared to almost 40% of those who were not overweight or obese.

Smoking and drinking

* 2% said they had smoked at the time of the interview but 7% said they had tried it at some time. More girls than boys said they smoked.

* 15% of the teens said they had tried alcohol but there was really no difference between the boys and girls. Just over half a percentage said they drank once a month or more.

* 83% of the teens had regular spending money — an average of just under €9 a week. Girls were more likely than boys to get money for chores.

Education

* 13-year-olds broadly positive about school and their teachers.

* Most parents supported their child’s learning and knew what was going on in school.

* Majority of parents are engaged with their child’s school — 88% attended a parent-teacher meeting, with 62% attending a social event.

* Parents held much higher expectations than their children about educational achievement.

* Three out of four mothers expected their child to achieve a degree or higher, whereas one in two of their children had the same expectation.

Financial and economic circumstances

* 59% of mothers of 13-year-olds worked outside the home. 33% were engaged in home duties and 3% unemployed.

* 78% of graduate mothers were at work outside the home, compared with 60% of those with a Leaving Certificate and 36% of those with a Junior Certificate or less.

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