25 August 2022
As social animals, our sense of community can be a powerful tool for improving health and wellbeing and strengthening our resilience in difficult times. For many, Covid proved this theory. Now, as we endure yet another challenging period, we wanted to explore how people in Ireland understand this concept and the role it plays in their lives.
In this edition of Reflecting Ireland, conducted in partnership with Kantar, we investigate how people here define community, what they do to shape it, and the factors they think help to make our communities stronger or weaker. We then follow this with our quarterly look at consumer attitudes towards Ireland’s economic situation and its direction of travel.
We’ve again teamed up with Claire Cogan of BehaviourWise to help us to interpret the data. As a behavioural scientist, her analysis takes a deeper look at the motivations and behaviours that can
1. Two thirds of us (65%) feel there is a strong community spirit in the area we live in, only 15% of us feel that is not the case. This is reflected in our relationships, with 65% saying they know their neighbours well.
2. When considering the factors that define a good community, people helping each other out (78%) rates most highly, followed by people looking out for vulnerable neighbours (75%) and a sense of physical security (73%).
3. There is some evidence of a say-do gap when it comes to community participation. While 69% of people say it is important to participate in community, only 49% do so actively. A lack of time may explain this with 3 in 4 people saying being too busy is the main barrier to creating a strong sense of community.
4. In terms of urban versus rural access to key services, 77% of people in urban areas rate broadband access as excellent or good versus 55% in rural areas. For transport, this is 63% v 29% while access to medical facilities is 52% v 32%.
5. Sport is a central outlet in how people engage with their community. Two-thirds (65%) say access to sports clubs is excellent or good where they live with 32% actively participating in these clubs and 26% showing support by volunteering. Engagement with sport is particularly strong among the under 34s, those with children and those living in newly established areas.
1. People in Ireland remain deeply concerned about their economic situation. Negativity towards our personal finances continues to rise – six in 10 (59%) feel they are worse off compared to this time last year.
2. Looking to the future, half the population feel they will be less well-off over the next 12 months – more than double what we reported in January. Those aged 18-24 – a generally optimistic cohort – are the only exception to this, with 47% expecting to be better off versus 20% worse off.
3. The inflationary crisis appears to have spread to all sectors of society. Higher-income individuals, who might otherwise be more insulated from price rises, are now also in deeply negative territory with 47% expecting to be worse off (versus 34% in April).
4. On a macro level, just 1 in 10 feel the economy will improve in the next year versus 2 in 3 stating the opposite. Negativity about the broader economic situation is now at levels not seen since the aftermath of the banking crash and subsequent Great Recession.
5. Emotionally, feelings of negativity (62%) are at the highest level since this rating was introduced in 2017, with a sense of anxiety (23%) dominating attitudes. Additionally, pessimism (14%) outweighs optimism (12%) for the first time.
The Reflecting Ireland research series was conducted in July 2022 among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 18+ in the Republic of Ireland.
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