Aviva Family Finances Report 2017

1 million adults in Ireland struggling financially: slightly under a million say they are living comfortably

Household optimism about finances on the rise but no-let up for ‘Squeezed Middle’ 

27th June 2017: A million adults in Ireland say they are struggling to make ends meet, while slightly less than a million say they are living comfortably. These are among the findings of Aviva’s Second Family Finances Report 2017 which provides a snapshot of the financial health and well-being of households across Ireland.

Commenting on the Report, Ann O’Keeffe, Head of Individual Life and Pensions, said:  “Our findings tell a tale of two recoveries: those who are feeling the upswing in their own finances and those who continue to struggle.  Worryingly, 70% of the 1 million who are struggling see no prospect of improvement in their circumstances. On the upside, 1.5 million are optimistic about their future.”

Family Finance Struggling

Asked to describe their current financial circumstances, 28% or 1 million adults, say they are struggling while 27% or 965,000 adults, say they are living comfortably.  A further 45%, or 1.6 million adults, say they are getting by financially.  Middle age is the pinch point with 40% of 45 to 54 year olds saying they are struggling. The most fortunate are those over 65, 44% of whom are living comfortably.

Family Finance Prospects

The survey for the Second Aviva Family Finance Report, carried out by RED C, finds optimism among households about the economy and their own financial well-being has grown since the first report last autumn. In particular, confidence in employment opportunities has increased with 47% saying they believe their employment prospects will continue to improve over the next six months.

Expectations on pay have also risen with 49% now expecting a salary increase, up 9 points since the autumn. Notwithstanding this, just one-third of adults expect their disposable incomes to increase with older age groups being least optimistic. The numbers expecting to pay more taxes have increased by 8 points, to 47%.

The report identifies the 35 to 54 year old age cohort as the most financially stressed.  This so-called ‘squeezed middle’ are also the most downbeat in their expectations for their future, one in three are struggling to make ends meet 

Family Finance Childcare

Family Finance Childcare 2

Family Finance Mortgage

This is the group that bore the brunt of the economic crash. Many lost their jobs and / or experienced wage cuts. All were hit by government austerity measures introduced by successive governments. Of those who bought houses many are likely to have bought at, or close to, the top of the market.  A majority feel ill-prepared for retirement and half of them expect to carry debts beyond their working lives.

“This key group is experiencing a financial ‘mid-life crisis’ as they juggle their responsibilities and liabilities to keep their heads above water.  Two in three of them see no immediate prospect of their income improving and many of them will have to find a way of funding their retirement. Their plight deserves the attention of those working on future pensions’ policy,” said Ann O’Keeffe.

By contract, those under the age of 34 and over 65 are faring much better.  The younger age cohort is the most positive in outlook with 44% expecting their income and employment prospects to improve.  Meanwhile, by far the most fortunate financially is the 65+ age group, 44% of whom say they are living comfortably. Over half of the 965,000 who are living comfortably are optimistic that their lives will improve financially over the next six months.  Across the population, 1.5 million are optimistic about their finances over the next six months.

Family Finance 18 to 34

Family Finance Over 65

Other findings in Aviva’s Second Family Finances report 2017.

    • Less than half say they are neither comfortable nor struggling and can be assumed to be getting by. This equates to 1.6 million of the population and as a group they are more pessimistic about their outlook with almost 60% seeing no improvement in their financial circumstances.
    • Close to one in three living in Connacht and the counties of Leinster outside of Dublin say they are struggling. This compares with just over one in four in Munster and just over one in five in Dublin. Our research shows that strugglers are more likely to have children and not to have a university degree.

Family Finance Struggling 2 Family Finance University Degree


  • By far the most fortunate financially is the 65 + age group, close to one in two of whom has a financial cushion in their later years. The young also fare well with 26% of those under 34 describing themselves as comfortable.  Those in this category are more likely to live in Dublin and to have a post graduate degree. Outside of the capital, Munster residents are the most financially comfortable.
  • There is a general uplift in confidence in our economic performance since last October with 52% believing a recovery is underway up 8 points and a quarter of respondents, up 6 points  saying they have personally experienced the benefits of the recovery. There is also considerable optimism about the economic outlook for the next six months. Ireland’s composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) registered 58.7 in April which, on historical trends indicates annualised GDP growth of 4% – 5%. 
  • One notable finding is that Connacht is as optimistic about the economy as Dublin. According to the IDA, the Mid-West and the West saw the highest rate of FDI related jobs growth in Ireland last year.  Those living in urban areas are 8% more optimistic than those living in rural Ireland.
  • There was an improvement since last October across a number of measures of financial wellbeing. Most notable is the increase in the number that feels in control of their finances, up 11 points. The percentage who believes the recovery has brought better investment opportunities has risen by 9 points. Respondents are also becoming less worried about investing, up by 7 points.  Nonetheless, uncertainty about the future continues to drive more savings with 64% saying fear about what the future will bring has made them more likely to save.
  • The gap between those who are struggling and the comfortable is especially evident in how both groups manage their personal finances. The 1 million who struggle are less likely to have a pension or a savings and investment product.  They also have more debt than the 965,000 who live comfortably.
  • Four out of then of those who struggle have credit union loans while 15% borrow from family or friends. The most common form of debt among the comfortable category is a credit card while just 3% say they borrow from family or friends.
  • More than half of those living comfortably have deposit accounts while 42% have pensions. They are twice more likely to have other investments than those who struggle.

Aviva Family Finances Report 2017 (2,182Kb)


About Aviva 

  • Aviva Ireland provides retirement income, life cover, protection, general insurance, and investment and savings products to almost 1million customers
  • We employ 1,150 across our three locations in Dublin, Galway and Cork.
  • We are one of Ireland’s largest insurers and part of Aviva Group, which has to 33 million customers, across 16 markets in Europe, Asia and Canada
  • Aviva’s asset management business, Aviva Investors, provides asset management services to both Aviva and external clients, and currently manages over €403,606 billion in assets.
  • Aviva helps people save for the future and manage the risks of everyday life; across the Group we paid out £34.4 billion in benefits and claims in 2016.
  • By serving our customers well, we are building a business which is strong and sustainable, which our people are proud to work for, and which makes a positive contribution to society.

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