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Family Well-Being in Difficult Times: A Model of Factors Influencing the Well-Being of Families on Limited Incomes in Ireland

Research Staff

Dr. Lorraine Swords (Principal Investigator)

Brían Merriman (Research Assistant)

About the Project

In recent years Ireland has suffered its most serious economic contraction in generations, with one in five Irish households with children living on incomes that are 60 per cent below the median national income (Central Statistics Office, 2008). Such economic pressures can result in long-term social and economic costs for children, families, and communities (e.g. Golonka & Hoffman, 2008; March et al., 2011; Ridge, 2002, 2007).

Research in Ireland by McKeown, Pratschke and Haase (2003) has identified family circumstances such as employment or social class as one of four broad sets of influences on the well-being of family members. While it is clear that families under financial pressure experience the repercussions across many aspects of their members' lives, research suggests that families can be active agents in how they respond to, and manage, these situations (e.g. Gordon, 2000).

Guided by family systems theory and ecological perspectives about families, the present study proposes to mine data collected as part of Growing Up in Ireland (GUI), the National Longitudinal Study of Children in Ireland, to investigate how limited family income can influence key family well-being measures.

Key Research Question

    • Among families living on limited incomes, what are the key factors that, directly or indirectly, influence their well-being?
      • What are the characteristics of families who
        • are doing well?
        • are experiencing difficulty?

Understanding the relative roles of key factors in contributing to adaptive functioning among families on limited incomes is of critical importance to developing future policy to safeguard the wellbeing of the family and its members. Using data collected as part of GUI can give us a sense of how families with limited incomes are faring and how this is so on a truly national scale.

Project Timescale: July 2011 to July 2012

This research is funded by the Family Support Agency, through the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences.


Last updated 13 January 2012 by The Children′s Research Centre (Email).