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Ireland still paying price socially for economic crash, study finds

  • 16 Nov 2017

Ireland, along with most EU member states, is paying the price socially for the economic crisis triggered in 2008, and has still not returned to the levels of “social justice” it enjoyed at that time, a new study finds.

16th November 2017

Patrick Smyth, Irish Times

The report highlights a substantial gap between northern and southern Europe – in the crisis-hit countries in the south, an above-average proportion of children and young people remain at risk of poverty and social exclusion.

In Greece, the proportion of children suffering from severe material deprivation – undergoing conditions of severe hardship, and no longer able to afford fundamental necessities of daily life – has tripled since 2007 to 26.7 per cent.

But there is an upward trend in social indicators, driven by a recovery in labour markets and specifically the fall in unemployment in the EU to 8.7 per cent last year from 11 per cent at the height of the social crisis in 2013.

The report by the German Bertelsmann Stiftung, a philanthropic foundation, uses a Social Justice Index (SJI) combining 38 measures of poverty, education, the labour market, health, intergenerational equity, social cohesion and non-discrimination.


Scandinavian countries

The Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden and Finland are at the top of the league table. Ireland rises from 19th to 17th in the table although its SJI (5.66) has not yet recovered from its 2008 level (down 0.25 percentage points) and remains below the EU average of 5.85 (which is down 0.16 percentage points).

The scale ranges from Denmark (7.39, +0.16) to Greece (3.7, -0.60). Joblessness in Greece runs at 23.7 per cent – with almost half of its young people unemployed (47 per cent) – while in Spain it stands at 19.7 per cent. Youth unemployment rates are falling, however, and they stand at 7.1 per cent in Germany, the top performer.