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Mining the Research

Resource type: Research Report

Queen’s University Belfast |

Many of the assumptions and stereotypes about older adults in Ireland have been based on questionable data and needed to be revisited, according to a study commissioned by The Atlantic Philanthropies. Queen’s University is an Atlantic grantee.


In Northern Ireland, many of the organisations working on behalf of older people felt seriously hampered by a lack of good research. The problem was the research was scattered throughout a multitude of surveys that no one had ever collated and analysed it as a whole. At the same time in Northern Ireland society, programme and policy decision debates on social needs and poverty threatened to omit a focus on older adults, due to a prevalent belief that this group was not widely affected by poverty.

To address this problem, The Atlantic Philanthropies commissioned a study from the Institute of Governance, Public Policy and Social Research at Queen’s University, Belfast. The purpose of the study was to pull together all of the relevant research data on older adults; subject the results to a fresh, comprehensive, scientific analysis; and then present the findings as a coherent whole.

The result was a series of five groundbreaking reports that not only documented the true depth and breadth of the social challenges facing older people in Northern Ireland, but brought the three following points to light:

  • A significant portion of older people faced substantial social difficulties that include poverty and disability.

  • Many of the assumptions and stereotypes about older adults were based on questionable data and needed to be revisited.

  • The true extent of poverty among older people had been understated in many studies because of flawed methodologies used in the studies.

This report has played a substantial role in shaping the direction of our Ageing Programme in Northern Ireland and the work of our Ageing grantees.

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Global Impact:

Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland


governance, Queen's University Belfast