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Background Information on Northern Ireland Society - Income



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Text and Research: Fionnuala McKenna
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Income

  • In regional terms, income levels in Northern Ireland tend to be significantly lower than all other parts of the United Kingdom (UK), with the exception of Wales. Despite this, the average household expenditure for Northern Ireland is almost as high as that in England, equal to Scotland, and substantially higher than that of Wales. Households in Northern Ireland spend more money per week on food, alcohol and tobacco, and less on housing than anywhere else in the UK.

  • Within Northern Ireland itself, further comparisons can be drawn between levels of income in the two religious communities. Protestants have traditionally earned higher incomes than Catholics, although a comparison of income statistics from 1988/87 and 1990/91 show that the gap in income levels between the two has reduced. A larger proportion of the Catholic community has also been dependent on state benefits, and although the figures for this are still quite high, (35 per cent of Catholics in 1990/91, compared to 19 per cent of Protestants) the actual gap has narrowed from a 19 per cent difference in 1988/87 to 16 per cent in 1990/91.

Sources:
The following tables provide further breakdowns of the income statistics available for Northern Ireland. Much of this material has been taken from the Northern Ireland Annual Abstract of Statistics (1996) , Regional Trends (1996), The continuous Household Survey (1991), and the Irish Almanac and Yearbook of Facts (1997).


Household Income: By Source, 1980-1981, 1994-1995 and 1996-1997

Percentage of average gross weekly household income
1980/81
1994/95
1996/97
.
N.Ireland
England
Scotland
Wales
N.Ireland
England
Scotland
Wales
N.Ireland
England
Scotland
Wales
Wages and Salaries
66.7
73.4
71.8
68.2
62.0
65.0
63.8
56.7
63.0
64.8
66.0
57.7
Self-employ
6.1
6.0
7.4
6.9
9.2
9.6
8.6
6.3
6.9
9.6
7.8
11.7
Investments
2.1
3.8
2.8
3.0
2.3
4.6
3.4
4.2
2.7
4.7
2.7
4.9
Annuities and Pensions
1.9
3.0
2.7
3.9
5.1
6.2
6.8
9.1
5.1
6.6
5.7
6.2
Social Security Benefits
22.7
12.7
14.1
17.2
20.0
12.8
15.2
22.5
21.2
13.0
16.1
18.6
Other Income
0.5
1.2
1.3
0.8
1.3
1.8
2.1
1.3
1.1
1.3
1.7
0.9
Average gross weekly household income (£)
119.2
152.7
144.2
138.6
326.3
375.6
363.0
282.7
326.2
404.1
367.4
359.0

(Source: Regional Trends, 1996 and 1998, p.107)



Distribution of Household Income, 1994 - 1995 and 1996 - 1997

1994-1995
% of households in each weekly income group
.
Northern Ireland
England
Scotland
Wales
Under £80
11.8
10.4
11.4
15.0
£80-£125
13.4
11.0
11.6
13.0
£125-£175
11.8
11.0
11.6
13.0
£175-£275
16.1
14.8
14.4
13.0
£275-£375
15.0
13.4
13.5
13.0
£375-£475
8.4
11.7
9.1
7.1
£475-£650
14.0
14.0
15.2
14.2
£650 or over
9.6
14.2
13.0
6.2
Average gross weekly income per household (£)
326.3
375.6
363.0
282.7
Average gross weekly income per person (£)
118.2
155.5
150.4
118.1


1996-1997
% of households in each weekly income group
.
*Northern Ireland
England
Scotland
Wales
Under £100
15.1
13.4
15.0
16.4
£100-£150
13.9
10.9
11.5
11.3
£150-£250
18.9
16.3
20.4
21.5
£250-£350
15.0
13.2
10.8
14.1
£350-£450
12.2
11.7
15.9
7.1
£450-£600
10.8
13.9
9.9
11.6
£600-£750
7.4
8.6
5.4
8.8
£750 or over
6.5
12.1
11.2
9.3
Average gross weekly income per household (£)
326.2
404.1
367.4
359.0
Average gross weekly income per person (£)
123.6
164.7
151.0
150.6

* Northern Ireland data are obtained from an enhanced sample, but the UK figures are obtained from the main Family Expenditure Survey Sample.

(Source: Regional Trends: 1996, p.127; 1998, p.107)



Household Expenditure: By Commodity and Service, 1994-1995

.
1994-1995
1996-1997
.
N.Ireland
England
Scotland
Wales
*N.Ireland
England
Scotland
Wales
Housing
27.7
48.0
41.3
34.2
29.0
50.8
39.3
46.2
Fuel, Light and Power
15.6
12.7
14.1
13.7
16.0
13.2
14.1
14.2
Food
57.9
50.6
49.6
44.3
60.2
55.0
56.1
53.8
Alcohol and Tobacco
20.3
17.9
18.5
16.2
19.4
18.3
20.1
18.3
Clothing and Footwear
23.0
17.0
18.6
12.8
22.7
18.5
17.1
15.0
Household Goods and Services
36.0
38.6
35.3
28.8
37.7
43.7
39.1
42.6
Motoring and Fares
47.9
43.1
42.0
38.9
47.5
48.9
48.9
46.4
Leisure Goods and Services
39.6
45.5
49.3
31.7
43.4
50.3
41.7
44.5
Misc. and Personal Goods and Services
12.4
13.4
11.8
10.3
14.4
14.2
11.2
12.2
Average Household Expenditure
280.4
286.9
280.5
230.7
290.2
312.8
287.6
293.2
Average Expenditure per Person
101.6
118.8
116.3
96.4
109.9
127.5
118.2
123.0

* Northern Ireland data are obtained from an enhanced sample, but the UK figures are obtained from the main Family Expenditure Survey Sample.

(Source: Regional Trends: 1996, p.130; 1998, p.111)



Total Gross Household Income in Northern Ireland from all sources - Breakdown by Religion

.
1986-1987
1988-1990/91
Total gross income
Catholic
%
Protestant
%
Overall
%
Catholic
%
Protestant
%
Overall
%
Less than £2,000
8
6
7
4
3
4
£2,000 - £3,999
31
24
26
26
24
24
£4,000 - £5,999
20
17
18
19
15
17
£6,000 - £9,999
21
20
20
20
19
19
£10,000 - £14,999
12
18
16
14
16
15
£15,000 and over
9
16
14
17
23
22

(Source: PPRU Monitor, Continuous Household Survey, Religion Report, No.1/93)




Dependence on Benefits in Northern Ireland: A Breakdown by Religion

.
1985-1987
1988-1990/91
Receipt of Benefits
Catholic
%
Protestant
%
Overall
%
Catholic
%
Protestant
%
Overall
%
Income Support
37
20
26
30
16
21
Family Credit
4
2
2
4
2
2
Unemployment Benefit
2
2
2
1
1
1

(Source: PPRU Monitor, Continuous Household Survey, Religion Report, No.1/93)



Average Gross Weekly Earnings of Adult Employees

.
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
Full Time Manual
(inc O/T)
177.5
191.6
194.4
198.6
209.35
216.4
221.25
Full Time Manual
(exc O/T)
161.3
171.1
174.1
178.45
186.65
194.0
198.3
Full Time Non-Manual
(inc O/T)
275.75
304.8
318.5
324.3
338.5
343.5
358.7
Full Time Non-Manual
(exc O/T)
261.95
289.05
302.0
306.95
324.3
330.8
343.65
Part Time Manual
(inc O/T)
72.5
75.25
75.0
81.15
84.15
92.1
87.85
Part Time Non-Manual
(inc O/T)
79.95
87.5
89.4
92.2
111.25
103.0
132.05

(Figures taken from Northern Ireland annual Abstract of Statistics, 1998, p119)



Breakdown of Average Gross Weekly Earnings, according to Gender

.
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
All Males
Full Time (inc O/T)
272.4
298.2
313.6
319.2
330.9
337.4
355.9
All Females
Full Time (inc O/T)
201.7
224.2
232.5
236.7
251.4
256.9
265.2
All Males
Full Time (exc O/T)
246.5
268.3
283.1
287.3
300.7
309.3
325.4
All Females
Full Time (exc O/T)
197.8
219.2
227.3
231.6
246.1
250.8
259.1
All Males
Part Time (inc O/T)
75.0
78.3
78.8
84.8
104.7
95.8
124.5
All Females
Part Time (inc O/T)
75.8
84.8
85.9
89.5
93.6
100.8
105.7

(Figures taken from Northern Ireland annual Abstract of Statistics, 1998, p.119)



Number of People Receiving Income Support, 1988-1996

.
1988
1989
1990
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
Persons < 60 years old
Unemployed with
contributory benefit
3,500
4,600
1,780
1,560
920
2,400
3,000
1,431
Unemployed without
contributory benefit
72,480
68,240
63,060
74,880
79,960
75,040
61,980
62,959
Disabled
8,940
12,240
11,400
16,540
19,660
{75,820
32,900
37,280
Lone parent premium
not in other groups
11,980
12,720
18,160
13,820
16,980
35,340
35,440
Others
11,980
12,720
18,160
13,820
16,980
22,040
21,170
Persons > 60 years old
Retirement Pensions
53,420
48,580
51,120
45,920
50,280
50,720
53,080
56,160
Others
12,600
12,820
7,400
13,360
14,180
16,840
17,460
16,820
All Income Support
184,140
183,400
179,000
199,820
214,960
220,820
70,540
72,980

Note: Based on a 5 per cent sample at May
         Breakdown not available for 1994.

(Source: Northern Ireland Annual Abstract of Statistics 1998, p.34)



Unemployment : Entitlement to Benefit (Thousands)

Thousand
.
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
Claimants
May
Nov
May
Nov
May
Nov
May
Nov
May
Nov
May
Nov
May
Aug
Unemployment Benefit Only
11.5
11.3
13.1
14.0
14.6
14.1
12.9
12.4
10.7
8.2
..
6.8
9.8
12.7
Unemployment Benefit
and Income Support
2.0
1.8
2.1
2.2
2.1
2.1
1.6
2.1
2.7
3.8
..
4.0
1.4
1.5
Income Support only
75.4
75.1
78.2
78.8
82.4
82.3
78.6
73.7
71.5
7.0
..
64.7
63.0
69.6
Neither Unemployment Benefit or Income Support Payment
7.9
6.6
5.9
6.4
6.0
6.9
5.0
11.1
10.2
9.3
..
8.7
8.5
9.4
All Entitled
96.8
94.8
99.3
101.5
105.1
105.4
98.1
99.4
95.2
91.3
..
84.2
82.7
93.3

(Source: Northern Ireland Annual Abstract of Statistics 1996, 1998, p.35)



People Receiving Other Non-Contributory Benefits, 1988-1997

.
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
Non-Contributory Retirement Pension
3,264
3,152
3,027
2,614
2,668
2,514
2,431
2,284
2,091
1,941
Family Credit
13,774
13,695
14,037
15,112
17,346
18,996
22,952
23,990
25,407
27,075
Attendance Allowance
29,394
32,374
36,456
38,877
32,977
54,787
56,111
63,137
64,060
45,269
23,266
Mobility Allowance
12,616
14,385
15,968
17,880
18,614
-
-
-
-
-
Severe Disablement Allowance
11,000
11,190
11,655
12,145
12,465
12,870
13,300
14,700
14,845
15,373
Invalid Care Allowance
5,728
7,133
8,117
8,249
10,395
16,971
22,299
28,242
33,254
29,356

*Mobility Allowance extinct after 1992

(Source: Northern Ireland Annual Abstract of Statistics, 1998, p.34)


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