Growing Up in Ireland report published

22 January 2010

Ireland’s longitudinal study of children, tracking the lives of over 8,500 nine-year-olds, has published its first major report. Growing Up in Ireland – The lives of 9-year-olds was launched on 7 December 2009 at the Study’s inaugural research conference in Dublin. The report provides a comprehensive picture of how children are faring across a range of key areas in their lives including their health, education, social, emotional and behavioural status.

The 150-page report, the first in a series, draws on findings from the first wave of in-depth interviews with 8,500 nine-year-olds and their families, teachers, school principals and other significant carers.

Key findings from the report include:

  • There are just over 56,400 nine-year-olds in Ireland. Just over 82% of them live in two-parent households with about one-in-five living in lone-parent families.
  • Two-parent families are almost three times more likely than single-parent families to be in the highest family income groups.
  • The majority of children live in families in which the parents adopt what is generally regarded to be the optimal parenting style – the authoritative style. This combines high control with high support and is usually associated with the best outcomes for children.
  • Almost all nine-year-olds (98%) were reported by their mother to be in good health. Seventy-three per cent are described as ‘very healthy’ and a further 25% as ‘healthy, but a few minor problems’.
  • Children from professional/managerial backgrounds were significantly more likely to be rated as healthy (76%) compared with those from semi-skilled/unskilled manual backgrounds (69%).
  • Using international definitions and thresholds 74% of children were described as being of normal weight, 19% were overweight and 7% were obese.
  • Children’s weight and obesity was strongly linked to that of their parents. Where both parents were overweight or obese, 33% of children were overweight or obese. This compares with 11% of children in households where neither parent was overweight or obese.
  • Rates of GP visits are highest amongst girls and amongst those with full medical card coverage.
  • A very large majority of nine-year-olds (93%) said they liked school at least ‘sometimes’. Fifty-three per cent of children said they ‘always’ liked their teacher and 41% said they ‘sometimes’ like them.
  • The child’s academic performance, as measured by the standard reading and mathematics tests, varied by social class, income and maternal education, with those from the higher classes, higher income, and higher educated groups achieving higher scores on the tests.
  • Forty per cent of nine-year-olds reported being a victim of bullying in the past year, and boys and girls experienced similar rates of victimisation.
  • A large proportion of the children’s mothers were unaware of their children’s experiences of bullying. Although 40% of children reported that they were the victim of bullying only 23% of their mothers reported this to be the case.  Either parents don’t know about the problem or they define bullying differently to their children.

A full download of the report and the executive summary can be found at

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