The Living Generations

Family life has undergone profound change in recent generations in Ireland. But what hasn’t changed is the central place of family in people’s lives, priorities and sources of happiness and wellbeing. 

Our Future of Ireland research points to a recurring theme of continuity and change in the Irish family. Not all change is welcome:

  • Only 20% think family life in Ireland is better now than 10 years ago
  • 35% think it isn’t.
  • Only 22% agree that we are looking out for each other more than 10 years ago
  • 43% disagree.

Irish people also see some of the traditional characteristics of family life changing significantly:

  • 60% think marriage will be less important in future.

Nevertheless, people are quite optimistic about the future of their own personal and family lives:

  • 43% expect their family life will be better in 10 years time
  • only 6% expect it to be worse.

One of the most interesting aspects of family life in Ireland is that of inter-generational change. The ‘generation gap’ still exists: 53% have totally different values to those of their parents when they were the same age. Do different generations in Ireland get on much better than they did before?

  • 43% agree
  • Only 18% disagree.
  • Under 25s agree more than older age groups. 

And there is a strong sense of openness between parents, children and grandparents nowadays, perceived by 63% of people in our survey. 

One of the most impressive indicators of this new ‘inter-generational openness’ revealed in the Future of Ireland study concerns adults giving advice to their parents. Over a quarter of adults have discussed the long-term future with one or both of their parents, though most haven’t. That doesn’t rule out giving advice to parents of course, and the majority of people in our survey have done so. The most common types of advice given by children to parents are:

  • Travel (40%)
  • Medical advice (39%)
  • Decorating (33%)
  • Financial advice (31%).
  • Relationships (18%) and on living arrangements (15%).
  • Just 12% have advised their parents on retirement.

Family no longer simply comprises those we are related to. A fascinating theme in our study relates to the role of friends.

  • 51% agree that friends are considered to be family as much as their relatives
  • This rises to 71% of under 25s.
  • Irish people are as optimistic about the future of their friendships as their families, 37% expect their friendships to be better by 2025
  • Only 7% expect them to be worse.


Family Obligations

Despite past changes and those anticipated in the future, the role of family in people’s lives is expected by most to become more important not less.

But if family is going to become more important for most, so will family obligations and commitments. It is clear in The Future of Ireland, that the vast majority of people think it important for people to discuss issues like finances and health with their families and loved ones.

  • 78% think it important to discuss the care of ageing parents
  • Nearly half (45%) of all adults would be happy to see all elderly people cared for by their adult children at home by 2025
  • Only 21% think it likely to happen 

In The Future of Ireland, sensitive issues such as wills and inheritance are discussed.

  • 74% of people think it important to discuss the matter with family and loved ones
  • 3 in 10 expect to inherit property and/or money at some stage in the future
  • The majority (51%) don’t expect to inherit anything

One hundred years on from the 1916 Proclamation we are perhaps for the first time open to not only ‘cherishing all the children of the nation equally’ but also to cherishing all the generations equally as well.

Download the full report below and take part in the conversation on our Twitter feed:@omd_fire. Don't forget to use #futureire to share your views!



Future of Ireland Ulster Bank