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Wellbeing of the Nation: People in Ireland healthier and in less debt

People in Ireland are healthier for longer, but are participating less in sport, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office.

The figures are contained in the Wellbeing of the Nation 2017 survey, an ongoing study aimed at finding out how people feel about their lives as a whole.

The number of healthy years people are living has risen from 66.9 in 2014 to 67.3 in 2015.

However the figures also show that participation in sport over the age of 15 has dropped from over 47% in 2013 to 45% in 2015.

While participation in sport has dipped, the report found more money being spent on sport and leisure - €17.85 in 2015-2016 compared with €14.40 six years earlier.

The report pulls on some previously-released data from the census and also some new information to highlight life in Ireland in eight areas including the economy, housing and education levels.

The report has found that average household debt has fallen from almost €93,900 in 2014 to almost €87,900 in 2015.

The percentage of those aged 25 to 64 with third level education has remained constant at 41% between the years 2015 and 2016.

The optimistic outlook compares with almost two-thirds of people being classed as overweight or obese, up to 62% in 2017 from 60% in 2015.

The number of homeless people, as measured on Census night increased by 81% between 2011 and 2016 from 3,808 to 6,906 persons.

It also showed the amount of people at risk of poverty or experiencing enforced deprivation was down only slightly to 8.7% in 2015.

The figure had been as low as 6.9% in 2011.

Some 39% of people aged 15 or older are said to binge-drink - taking three or more pints in one sitting or six or more measures of spirits.

The average work commute has gone up from 26.6 minutes in 2011 to 28.2 minutes in 2016, which the CSO said was "a fall for societal well-being".

It also noted that 8.4% of people regularly worked more than 48 hours a week in 2016.

More than a quarter of over-15s volunteered in 2013 either through organisations or directly themselves, the CSO said.

Almost half of adults believe crime is a very serious problem while 5% self-reported being victims of crime including violent and non-violent theft, physical assault and fraud. The CSO said this number has remained fairly constant over time.

Commenting on the data, Statistician Damien Lenihan said: “This publication attempts to measure wellbeing, which is influenced by many factors including the economic conditions of the country, the health of its population, and the educational attainment of its people.

“This publication is a starting point in measuring wellbeing and is an area which will be expanded further in the coming years”.