A new report by the independent think tank TASC calls on the government to address inequality by tackling our low-wage economy.
The social change watchdog says a third of workers earned just over €12 per hour in 2013 - and worked mostly in retail and hospitality.
The report shows that Ireland's underlying inequality is masked by heavy social welfare subsidies to the unemployed, the sick and the elderly.
Director of TASC, Professor James Wickham, said we need to focus instead on helping those at work - especially by providing childcare.
“The first and the obvious one is to ensure that wages are increased, in particular for those people on low wages. The second thing is improve public services, in particular childcare.
"Universal child care allows people, particularly women, to participate more in the workforce and it also allows people to participate more in wider society.”