Mood of nation lifted as pandemic restrictions were eased, CSO data shows

Research highlights damaging impact of renting a home rather than owning one can have on feelings of financial wellbeing

A 2 metre social distancing sign due to  Covid-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland at the Phoenix Park, Dublin
Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

The impact of months of enduring Covid-19 restrictions on the mood of the nation in 2021 has been revealed in the latest raft of data published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The research also highlights significant differences in how men and women view their happiness and loneliness levels and the damaging impact renting a home rather than owning one has on feelings of financial wellbeing.

A significantly higher percentage of Irish people said they were happy in 2023 than two years earlier when pandemic related restrictions were still being enforced, according to the new data.

Despite the cost of living crisis which dominated for much of 2023, just under 30 per cent of people reported high levels of satisfaction with their overall life last year compared with 21.4 per cent in 2021, the research suggests.


The percentage of respondents who reported low levels of satisfaction with their lives, meanwhile, fell from 14 per cent in 2021 to just over 10 per cent last year.

Men were more likely to report higher levels of satisfaction, according to the CSO with 32 per cent of males saying they were largely content compared with 26 per cent of women.

Women were also more likely to report low overall life satisfaction with 12.3 per cent downbeat about their lives compared with 8 per cent of men.

A total of 17.4 per cent of women said they felt downhearted or depressed at least sometimes over the four-week period before being interviewed by CSO researchers, down from just over 26 per cent two years earlier.

By contrast 12 per cent of men gave a similar assessment of their mood over the four weeks before taking part in the study compared with just under 18 per cent two years earlier.

Looking at loneliness, the research suggests that women were almost twice as likely as male respondents to feel lonely. Just over 10 per cent of men reported feeling lonely compared with 18 per cent of women.

A total of 82 per cent married respondents said they felt happy either always or most of the time during the four-week period before taking part in the study.

The comparable rate for separated and divorced respondents was approximately six in 10 while just under 70 per cent of respondents who were never married and a similar percentage of widowed respondents said that they felt happy either always or most of the time.

When researchers drilled down into the demographics of the respondent they found that those aged over 65 were more likely to be happy with their lot.

The CSO did not extrapolate the reason for their happiness but the research also recorded that those over the age of 65 were also more inclined to report high overall satisfaction with their financial situation, the amount of time they have available for enjoyable activities and with their personal relationships.

Considerably more of the over 65s who were still employed reported almost twice the level satisfaction with their jobs than those aged between 50 and 64 while even fewer of those aged between 25 to 49 reported high levels of job satisfaction

Just over 42 per cent of the self-employed respondents reported a high satisfaction level with their job compared to 35.4 per cent of semistate employees, 30.7 per cent of for public sector employees and 25.3 per cent of private sector employees.

People living in owner occupied homes were more than 3 times more likely to report high overall satisfaction with the financial situation with over 23 per cent of such households upbeat compared with 7.3 per cent of those living in rented accommodation.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor