This is a time of year when we traditionally take stock. We reflect on the year that has been and make plans for the year to come. In this special edition of Reflecting Ireland, we look at how people view their lives on this island, what concerns them, and what hopes they have for the future.
From our findings, we find that most of us are happy with the country we call home. We see it as a good place to grow up and grow old in, we prize our decency and values, but few have not been impacted by a changing economic environment. Pragmatism is an enduring theme - we recognise that there are testing times ahead and plan to cut our cloth accordingly.
As part of this report, we’ve partnered with behavioural scientist Claire Cogan of BehaviourWise to help us interpret the findings.
Three quarters of people (74%) believe that all in all, Ireland is a good place to grow up in, and only 1 in 10 (9%) disagree. 61% believe Ireland is a good place to grow old in, with 18% disagreeing.
The welcoming nature of Irish people is seen as one of the best things about living in Ireland today, with 51% citing this as a key positive. Our natural environment (48%), culture (38%) and community values (31%) also rank highly.
There is clear focus on improving our health on wellbeing next year. 61% plan to get more exercise, while 54% of us say we will improve our diet and sleeping patterns.
8 in 10 (81%) have already committed to a New Year resolution, with losing weight and getting fit the top goals (13% each).
The proportion of consumers planning to save regularly has increased from 58% in 2021 to 65% in 2022 – and the proportion that are not in a position to save has reduced from 38% to 27%. 40% of people say they will cut back on the amount they save over the year ahead.
The most common reason given for saving is precautionary, with 51% keeping money aside for a ‘rainy day’. Other popular reasons are for a holiday (38%), a new car (27%) or home-related (home improvements 22%, mortgage deposit 16%).
Women are more likely to feel they are vulnerable to a financial shock – 44% say they could not pay for a major unexpected expense. This is significantly more than the level of men (27%) who feel this way. For those aged 25-54, this figure stands at 41%.
With the economy in flux, 59% of consumers say they only expect to “get by” in 2023. Over 1 in 3 (36%) do not expect to have any money left over at the end of the month.
Our important issues
Healthcare and housing are our two most important policy issues going into next year, a consistent finding throughout the Reflecting Ireland series. Over nine in ten cite the standard of health as being most deserving of our attention.
Focusing on environmental and sustainability intentions, we are prepared to recycle more and use public transport more often, but less inclined towards actions such as partially or fully retrofitting our homes, or buying an electric or hybrid vehicle.
Despite the likely financial impact, we are still prepared to step up to the mark in solidarity with Ukraine into the future. 47% agree European sanctions against Russia are worth it and 49% are in favour of the EU policy on supporting refugees. Both are more than double those who disagree.
There are warning signs for the hospitality industry, with many stating that these outgoings will be top of their list when cutting back. Eating out in restaurants (61%), going to pubs (54%), long and short domestic holidays (47% and 50%) are all areas where consumers are planning to reduce their spend.
On housing, only 11% believe the housing market will become more affordable in 2023, and a similar proportion (10%) believe the rental market will ease. Just one in eight (12%) agree that now is a good time to buy a house.
From a macroeconomic perspective, two thirds of us believe there will be a recession in 2023. As a result, 66% plan to cut back on essential items if cost of living continues to increase.
The Reflecting Ireland research series was conducted in November 2022 among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 18+ in the Republic of Ireland.