Census 2016: Average Household Size in Ireland Increases to 2.75

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The increase in the average household size in Ireland is the latest damning evidence of the extent of Ireland’s housing crisis. Contained within the first detailed results of the 2016 Census – released yesterday – the data shows that the average household size in Ireland increased from 2.73 to 2.75 between 2011 and 2016. The uptick arrests the long-term decline of the ratio with the lack new supply acting as a barrier to the ratio falling since 2011.

In order to gauge the impact of this increase, it is important to estimate what the ratio would have been in a properly functioning housing market. While the average household size in Europe in 2015 was 2.3, it is normal that Ireland should be higher than the EU average given our high population growth rate (birth rate of 14.9 per 1,000 compared to a European average of 10.1) which dictates that we have more children per household and thus a higher average household size.

As part of their Future Housing Requirements Report, the Housing Agency modeled that household size would drop from 2.73 in 2011 to 2.70 in 2016. However, due to the lack of supply, the average household size actually increased from 2.73 to 2.75. Thus, the current deficit arising solely from household size trends stood at 32,066 in 2016. In other words, we need to build 32,066 immediately just bring back household size trends back to normal

Other key findings from the latest Census results include:

  • Only 2.0% of standing housing stock were built in the five years leading up to Census 2016, accounting for 33,436 dwellings. This compares with 25.4% or 431,763 dwellings built between 2001 and 2011
  • Purpose built flats and apartments have shown the largest increase rising from 149,921 in 2011 to 172,096 in 2016, an increase of 14.8% or 22,175 units
  • The proportion of owner-occupied households dropped from 69.7% in 2011 to 67.6% in 2016. There were an additional 22,323 households living in rented or rent free accommodation in 2016, an increase of 4.7% on 2011
  • Since 2011 the average weekly rent paid across the country grew by 14.8% to €156. Households living in private rented purpose built flats and apartments paid the highest rent at an average of €229 per week

The ‘Housing in Ireland’ chapter of the Census is due to be released on the 20th April and will be key to gaining further understanding of the current health of the housing market.


Knight Frank

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