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Survey of Income and Living Conditions 2020

17 December 2021 - 14:14 pm


On December 17th,2021, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) published the results of the Survey of Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2020. SILC is a household survey which provides the data from which key national poverty indicators are derived, including the at risk of poverty rate, the consistent poverty rate, and rates of enforced deprivation. 

The CSO also produced an Information Note informing people why there has been a break in the time series with the publication of SILC 2020. In 2021 the European legislative basis for the production of statistics on income and living conditions changed. There will now be a common framework for European statistics relating to persons and households, based on data at individual level collected by samples, and this required the CSO to introduce changes to how SILC is done.

In 2020 the at-risk-of-poverty rate was 13.2%. This figure increases significantly to 37.9% when social transfers, including social welfare payments, are excluded. Notwithstanding the positive impact of social transfers, for people who are unemployed and for people who are unable to work due to long-standing health problems, their at-risk-of-poverty rates are much higher, at 32% and 33.7% respectively.

The deprivation rate was 15.6%, this captures people in the population who were not able to afford at least two of the items/activities contained in a list of eleven. Amongst the issues raised by survey respondents were: unable to replace worn out furniture; unable to have family/friends over once a month; unable to put the heating on.

According to the Principal Economic Status breakdown of this figure, unemployed people’s deprivation rate was 35.3% and for people unable to work due to long-standing health problems was 39.3%. A starker figure is seen in the Household composition breakdown, where families comprising one adult with children aged under 18, have a deprivation rate of 47.8%. This is 9.5 percentage points higher than the deprivation rate for those at-risk-of-poverty, which was 38.3%.

At the national level the consistent poverty rate, which captures people who are at-risk-of-poverty and experience deprivation, was 5%. Again this figure is much higher for people who are unemployed (16.6%); for people who are unable to work due to long-standing health problems (17%); and in particular for households of one adult with children aged under 18 (21.6%).

In this release, as part of their Frontier series, the CSO published Poverty Insights – Income Reference Periods 2018-2020. Amongst the issues explored in this document is the impact of COVID-19 income supports on people and poverty rates. For example, the national at-risk-of-poverty rate would have been much higher: 21% in comparison to 13.2%. While the at-risk-of-poverty rate for unemployed people would increase to 39.6% without the positive impact of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.