An old man counting his coins
Key Facts and Stats

How is poverty measured in Ireland?

At risk of poverty or income poverty is defined as having an income below 60% of the national median income. In 2021, the poverty threshold for a single adult was €291.50 per week.

Basic or enforced deprivation refers to the inability to afford 2 or more of 11 basic necessities such as nutritious food, adequate heating and suitable clothing.

Consistent poverty refers to experiencing basic deprivation and having an income below the 60% poverty threshold.

Source: Department of Social Protection

An elder person counting coins
An elder person feeling distressed around a lady
How many people are affected by poverty?

In 2021:

  • 581,334 people were at risk of poverty but after housing costs are factored, this rose to 952,334.
  • 691,587 people were experiencing enforced deprivation.
  • 200,400 people living in consistent poverty.

Source: CSO Survey of Income and Living Conditions

A distressed lady calculating her expenses
Who is at a higher risk of poverty?

Among the total population, 17.1% of people experience enforced deprivation. Some groups have a much higher risk:

  • 45.4% of one parent families,
  • 42.7% of people with a disability,
  • 34% of renters, and
  • 45% of unemployed people experience enforced deprivation.

Source: CSO Survey of Income and Living Conditions

How many people are impacted by energy poverty?

In 2019, it was estimated that 1 in 6 households experienced energy poverty.

By 2021 and during the energy crisis it is estimated at 1 in 3 households were affected.

Source: Economic and Social Research Institute

How many people are impacted by food poverty?

Food poverty refers to the inability to afford and access a nutritious diet.

In 2021, 445,890 people experienced food poverty.

Source: Department of Social Protection

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A sad boy leaning against the window
How does Ireland compare to other European Countries?

In 2020, 20% of the Irish population were at risk of poverty and social exclusion. This compares to the EU 27 average of 21.5%.

Romania had the highest rate at 35.8% and Czechia had the lowest rate at 11.5%.


What income does a person need to afford a Minimum Essential Standard of Living?

Data from our partners in the Vincentian MESL Research Centre shows what income is needed to afford a Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL) and live a dignified life in Ireland.

In 2022, the weekly gap between the income of social welfare dependent households was:

  • €70.94 for a one parent family with two children.
  • €75.68 for a two-parent family with two children.
  • €52 for a single adult with no children.
  • €81.54 for a pensioner living alone in a rural area.

In 2021, a person earning the National Minimum Wage would need to work almost 60 hours per week to in order to afford an MESL when living in Dublin.

Source: Vincentian MESL Research Centre

A man carrying an empty shopping basket at a supermarket
An older lady removing a fiver from her wallet
What is the real-life experience of living in poverty?
  • “I'm worried the car might break down or the children will become ill. I'm praying the fridge won't break. I don't have enough money to plan for these uncertainties. What will I do? I don't like borrowing.”
  • “Children should have happy memories and photographs of happy times, my daughter hasn't any. People need happy memories, don't they, especially children?”
  • "My eight-year old daughter said ’Mummy I want a birthday party and I had to say ‘you're a big girl now; you don't need a birthday party.’ It was very difficult to see the disappointment on her face. I had to explain that we don't have the money.”
  • “I do as much planning and budgeting as I can. I'm happy if the rent, ESB and food bills are paid. I wish I could plan for months ahead…but it's difficult to plan when you're unsure about the basics.”
  • “I found a job as a Carer but I had to travel and I had to work days and nights. I couldn't continue working because of the different hours. I started with twenty hours-a-week and this went down to just eight. I couldn't afford childcare and travel. A combination of childcare and travel is a big expense for the odd hours.”
  • “I can't get control, we can't make plans, it's like being in a deep hole, no matter what we do we can’t get out of it. We climb up and fall back in.”
  • “The children look for money for school trips. We often have to say no to even five euro, we just don't have it, even though we budget carefully. We have to say ‘sorry we can't’…they are very good kids and we hate that they feel different.”
  • “My daughter, who is such a good child, asked for €5 for lunch on a school trip. I could not find €5 in the house. All she said was ‘don’t worry, I’ll manage.”
  • “I find life very hard, not being able to pay all my bills and always putting some on the long finger. The stress makes me sick. I’m always worrying knowing that my kids have to go without.”
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