Children in low-income households

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • Over the period 2006/07 to 2008/09, 26% of children in Northern Ireland – some 100,000 in total – were living in low-income households (using the low-income threshold of the 60% of median income after deducting housing costs).
  • Northern Ireland’s 26% rate is some 5 percentage points below the Great Britain average of 31%.  The Northern Ireland rate is lower than that in either Wales or any of the English regions.
  • Almost half of all people in lone parent families are in low income.  This is two-and-a-half times the rate for couples with children.
  • Of the 100,000 children living in low-income households, just over half were living in families with two parents and just under half were living in families with one.
  • Of the 100,000 children living in low-income households, half were living in families where at least one adult was doing some paid work.
  • Most of the lone parents in low income are not working.  In contrast, most of the couples with children in low income do have someone in paid work.  The net result is that most of the children in low-income households are either in couple families where someone is in paid work or in workless lone parent families.

Definitions and data sources

The first graph compares the proportion of children in low-income households in Northern Ireland with that for each of the regions in Great Britain.

The second graph shows the risks of being in low income for people in different family types.  Note that a couple (and therefore both of its adults) is classified as a pensioner couple if either of the adults is of pensionable age.

The third graph shows a breakdown of the children who were in low-income households by family type (couple or lone parent) and work status (workless or someone in paid work).

The data source for all the graphs is Households Below Average Income, based on the Family Resources Survey (FRS).  A child is defined as an individual who is either under 16 or is an unmarried 16- to 18-year-old on a course up to and including A level standard (or Highers in Scotland).   Income is disposable household income after deducting housing costs and the low-income threshold is the same as that used elsewhere, namely 60% of British contemporary median household income.  All the data is equivalised (adjusted) to account for differences in household size and composition.  The self-employed are included in the statistics.  Note that in 2007 DWP made some technical changes to how it adjusted household income for household composition (including retrospective changes) and, as a result, the data is slightly different than previously published figures.  The averaging over three-year periods has been done to improve statistical reliability.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: medium.  The FRS is a well-established annual government survey designed to be representative of the population as a whole and the Northern Ireland sample has been boosted to improve sample sizes.  However, the Northern Irish sample is a recent addition to the survey and is yet to be fully quality assured by the Department of Work and Pensions.