Poverty: Measurement and Monitoring

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What is poverty?

The Irish Government defines poverty as:

People are living in poverty if their income and resources (material, cultural and social) are so inadequate as to preclude them from having a standard of living which is regarded as acceptable by Irish society generally. As a result of inadequate income and resources, people may be excluded and marginalised from participating in activities which are considered the norm for other people in society. (Government of Ireland, 1997)

This definition reflects the multidimensional nature of poverty. This understanding is confirmed in the Updated National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2015-2017 and is the basis for the revised National Social Target for Poverty Reduction 2012.

Official measure of poverty

The official measure of poverty in Ireland is 'consistent poverty'. This indicator is the overlap of two component indicators:

  • at-risk-of-poverty – which identifies individuals with household incomes below 60% of the median; and
  • basic deprivation – which captures individuals lacking 2 or more of 11 basic necessities.

This measure reflects the multidimensional understanding of poverty and is designed to identify the population with the greatest needs in terms of being both income poor and deprived. See Glossary for more information about component and supporting poverty measures.

National Social Target for Poverty Reduction

The National Social Target for Poverty Reduction (NSTPR) aims to reduce consistent poverty to 4% by 2016 (interim target) and to 2% or less by 2020, from a baseline rate of 6.3% in 2010.

There are two other components of the NSTPR:

  • The Irish contribution to the Europe 2020 poverty target is to reduce by a minimum of 200,000 the population in 'combined poverty' (i.e. consistent poverty, at-risk-of-poverty or basic deprivation) between 2010 and 2020.
  • The child-specific poverty target is to lift over 70,000 children (aged 0-17 years) out of consistent poverty by 2020, a reduction of at least two-thirds on the 2011 level.

Progress towards these targets is reported annually in the Social Inclusion Monitor.

Last modified:29/03/2016