The Great Recession and the Changing Distribution of Economic Stress across Income Classes and the Life Course in Ireland: A Comparative Perspective

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Title: The Great Recession and the Changing Distribution of Economic Stress across Income Classes and the Life Course in Ireland: A Comparative Perspective
Authors: Whelan, Christopher T.
Nolan, Brian
Maitre, Bertrand
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/7649
Date: 26-Jan-2016
Abstract: The impact of the Great Recession led to changes in the distribution of economic stress across the life course in Ireland, one of the countries severely affected by the economic crisis. Our peak to trough analysis shows that in Ireland in 2008 there was a clear life course gradient in relation to economic stress with children occupying the most favourable and the elderly the least favourable position. Over time the gradient became sharper with the relative position of younger groups deteriorating. In 2008 life course differentiation was significantly sharper for the precarious and poverty classes than for the high income groups. For the former graduated differentiation across the range of the life course was evident while for the latter the primary contrast was between the elderly and all other stages. Thus the major line of differentiation in terms of both overall stress levels and their patterning across the life course was between the precarious and poor income classes and the high income group. While stress levels increased for all groups between 2008 and 2012, within the high income class the elderly group saw their relative position particularly enhanced while children experienced the sharpest deterioration. Among the precarious and poor classes, the elderly again experienced an improvement in their relative position while for the former the sharpest deterioration was experienced by the older middle aged group and for the latter the younger middle aged group. Thus while the elderly experienced a cross class improvement in their relative position for other life course stage the impact of the crisis was contingent on income class. That the Irish pattern of change was not an inevitable outcome of the economic crisis is illustrated by the fact that in Iceland a similar starting produced a quite different set of changes involving an erosion of life course differentials in the impact of precarity and poverty. Greece on the other hand provides an example of the emergence of life course differentiation where the prerecession period was characterised by their absence. Clearly policy choices not only affect such differentiation but the extent to which they operate differentially across income cases.
Type of material: Working Paper
Publisher: University College Dublin. Geary Institute
Keywords: Great Recession;Income classes;Economic stress;Life course
Language: en
Status of Item: Not peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Geary Institute Working Papers
Sociology Research Collection

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