Young people more likely to suffer several quality of life issues, ESRI finds

Healthcare is the prime concern for older people, while financial strain is of concern to those under 30

ESRI, quality of life, study, Ireland, healthcare, financial strain, social class, age groups

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New research has found young adults, especially those under-30, are most likely to experience multiple quality of life problems.

The study from the ESRI found that quality of life problems differ in Ireland by age group and social class.

Using 11 indicators to measure different aspects of quality of life, the research found significant differences across in the extent and type of problems.

It also found large differences in problems reported across different social classes, but very little variation in the types of problems.

The paper focuses on 11 types of quality of life problems: income poverty, being unable to afford basic goods and services, financial strain, poor health, mental distress, housing quality problems, crowded accommodation, neighbourhood problems, mistrust in institutions (such as the political system, legal system and police), lack of social support and feeling unsafe in the local area.

It found that young adults were most likely and those over 70 were least likely to experience multiple problems.

The rate of multiple problems was 1.8 times higher for the younger than the older age group.

Poor health and lack of safety were more likely to be reported by older adults, with poor health accounting for 19% of the issues reported by multiply deprived adults in this age group.

Younger adults were more likely to report issues with financial strain, crowded accommodation and deprivation - each of which accounted for 11% to 13% of the issues reported by those under 30.

Three issues were of medium importance across all of the age groups: housing quality problems, mental distress and mistrust in institutions.

Financial strain and mental distress

The research measured the number of people who experience multiple (three or more) issues, and examined how the types of problems experienced by people within this group vary by age group and social class.

It found that about one quarter of adults - 25.5% - reported problems on at least three of the 11 indicators.

Within this group, seven issues each accounted for 10% to 11% of the total issues reported: financial strain, mental distress, health problems, neighbourhood problems, housing quality problems, deprivation and mistrust in institutions.

Crowding, income poverty and lack of safety were less common - accounting for 6% to 8% of issues.

Lack of social support was the least commonly reported issue, representing 4%.

Differences in the level of multiple problems by social class are even more pronounced than age group, with those in the manual/lower social class 2.6 times more likely to report multiple problems than those in the professional/managerial class.

But there is less variation across social classes in the types of problems experienced.

When people in different social classes have multiple problems, they tend to experience the same kinds of issues.

"The one exception was that financial strain and income poverty tended to account for a greater proportion of the issues faced by the self-employed and farmer social classes (14% and 11%, compared to overall averages of 11% and 8% respectively)," the paper says.

Dorothy Watson is research professor with the ESRI. She outlined the results to Newstalk Breakfast.

Read the full paper here