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Recent years have seen dramatic developments in the Irish housing market. Most attention has been directed at the unprecedented increase in house prices, which gave rise to concerns about the affordability of home purchase, particularly for first-time buyers. Yet other consequences received less attention, such as the increase in the value of housing assets among existing homeowners and the effect of housing scarcity and rising housing values in pushing up rent levels in the private rented sector. These developments had complex implications for inequalities in incomes, living standards, the risk of poverty and the distribution of wealth in Ireland.

This study examines the distributional consequences of the changing housing market and the long-term trends within which they might be located and understood by taking account of the results of the dominance of home ownership in Irish housing patterns and in governmental policy concerns.

Combat Poverty commissioned the Economic and Social Research Institute to carry out a pioneering study of housing, poverty and wealth, with the following objectives:

  • To outline patterns of housing tenure in an historical and comparative context.
  • To assess the impact of housing costs on poverty risk.
  • To examine the distribution of housing as a form of wealth.


The study considers housing from macro and comparative perspectives, focusing on housing tenure and on issues of housing poverty and wealth. The results indicate serious causes for concern for policymakers, particularly for private rental sector tenants, who demonstrate the highest risk of poverty by tenure.

Housing, Poverty and Wealth in Ireland

Recent years have seen dramatic developments in the Irish housing market. Most attention has been directed at the unprecedented increase in house prices, which gave rise to concerns about the affordability of home purchase, particularly for first-time buyers. Yet other consequences received less attention, such as the increase in the value of housing assets among existing homeowners and the effect of housing scarcity and rising housing values in pushing up rent levels in the private rented sector. These developments had complex implications for inequalities in incomes, living standards, the risk of poverty and the distribution of wealth in Ireland.

This study examines the distributional consequences of the changing housing market and the long-term trends within which they might be located and understood by taking account of the results of the dominance of home ownership in Irish housing patterns and in governmental policy concerns.

Combat Poverty commissioned the Economic and Social Research Institute to carry out a pioneering study of housing, poverty and wealth, with the following objectives:

  • To outline patterns of housing tenure in an historical and comparative context.
  • To assess the impact of housing costs on poverty risk.
  • To examine the distribution of housing as a form of wealth.


The study considers housing from macro and comparative perspectives, focusing on housing tenure and on issues of housing poverty and wealth. The results indicate serious causes for concern for policymakers, particularly for private rental sector tenants, who demonstrate the highest risk of poverty by tenure.

By: Tony Fahey, Brian Nolan and Bertrand Maître

Published: Friday 07, May 2004. 128 Pages


€8.00

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