The SocialWelfare Pensions in Ireland: Pensioner Poverty and Gender
This paper examines changes to value of the state pensions and poverty rates for older men and women during the two terms of the Fianna Fáil – Progressive Democrat coalition government in Ireland between 1997 and 2007. It is shown that despite consistent increases in the value of the state pensions relative to earnings, poverty increased during the initial years of the period only to fall dramatically thereafter. While the increase in poverty at the 50 per cent median income rate between 1997 and 2001 was experienced disproportionately by women, there has also been an important gender dimension to the reduction in poverty amongst the over 65s since 2001. Since 2003, women have been no more likely than men to fall below the 50 per cent of median income poverty line or to fall below the 60 per cent line since 2004. However, analysis of data from the 2006 Irish release of the EU Survey of Income and Living Conditions shows that older women remained more likely than men to experience poverty as measured at 70 per cent of median income. A logistic regression model is used to identify underlying differences in poverty rates between men and women after adjusting for other independent variables. The results show that after adjusting for differences in occupation, household composition, geography and health status, the odds of a woman falling below the 70 per cent median income line remained 1.25 times that of a man.
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