Northern Ireland

Numbers in low income

Key points

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Graph 1: Compared to Great Britain (after deducting housing costs)

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Graph 2: Compared to Great Britain (before deducting housing costs)

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Graph 3: Housing costs

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Graph 4: Over time

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Graph 5: By religion

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Definitions and data sources

By convention, the low-income threshold is defined as 60% of the income of the average United Kingdom household ('median income').  The justification for defining low income relative to the average is that anyone whose income is so far below that average is unlikely to be able to live normally by the standards of that society.

The first two graphs compares the proportion of people in low-income households in Northern Ireland with that for each of the regions in Great Britain.  In the first graph, the calculations are done using incomes after deducting housing costs whilst, in the second, they are done using incomes before deducting housing costs.

The third graph shows how housing costs for those on below-average incomes in Northern Ireland compare to the regions of Great Britain, with the data shown separately depending on whether rents paid for by Housing Benefit are considered to be a housing cost or not.  Housing costs are calculated as 'income before deducting housing costs' less 'income after deducting housing costs' and are scaled to be for couples with no children.

The fourth graph shows the number of people living in low-income households (after deducting housing costs) for each year since 2002/03 (the first year for which the data is available for Northern Ireland).  In addition to the numbers below the 60% threshold, it also shows the numbers below the lower thresholds of 50% and 40%.

The fifth graph compares the proportion of people in low-income households (after deducting housing costs) by religious denomination.  Note that the religious denomination of the household is defined in terms of the religious denomination of the Household Reference Person.  Also note that the data is for the latest year only (i.e. 2008/09) as there is no data for 2006/07 and 2007/08.

The data source for all the graphs is Households Below Average Income, based on the Family Resources Survey (FRS).  Income is disposable household income after deducting housing costs.  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.

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