One in 10 Irish people 'cannot afford food', OECD study reveals

The gap between rich and poor in Ireland is now four times the OECD average with young people facing a "lifetime" of poverty.

That's according to [url=http://www.oecd.org/ireland/OECD-SocietyAtaGlance2014-Highlights-Ireland.pdfa new study by the think-tank[/url] which has found that incomes in the average Irish household fell by 50% since 2008.

The study also reveals that almost one in 10 Irish people cannot afford food.

Some 9% of people surveyd reported not enough money to buy food, up from 4.2% pre-crisis.

It says that lower income families lost a greater proportion of their income than the better-off - and that the gap will continue to grow in the years ahead.

"Incomes of Irish households fell by €1,800 per person since 2008, to reach €18,500 per

person in 2012," the study said.

This is one of the biggest falls in the Eurozone – the loss in the average Eurozone

country was €1,100 – and reflects the deterioration of labour-market conditions across large

parts of the population, and particularly among youth."

“Families have also cut back on essential spending, including on food, compromising their current and future well-being,” the report states.

“It is still too early to quantify the longer-term effects on people’s health, but unemployment and economic difficulties are known to contribute to a range of health problems, including mental illness.”

The OECD warns that recessions widen income gaps that recoveries often fail to close. It claims the gap between rich and poor had been increasing in Ireland even before the crisis.

Dr Niamh Hourican, professor of Sociology at UCC, said the study is a huge concern.

"We could be looking at a time bomb here down the line in terms of that inequality," Dr Hourican said.

"Something we haven't historically seen in Ireland is where poverty among the elderly has been a really significant factor compared to, for instance, child poverty.

"But we could be looking at that in our future if these kinds of issues aren't addressed."

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