The first ‘Future of Ireland’ nationwide study, published today by leading media agency OMD with the support of Ulster Bank, has found that Ireland’s citizens are optimistic about the future and that our values and priorities have significantly changed. Based on conversations with over 1,000 people, the Future of Ireland report asks a series of questions exploring what people believe the future will hold, both for them personally and our country as a whole, in 2025.
The predictions are collated in a research report which is available online at www.futureofireland.ie, with a view to sparking a national conversation about who we want to be in the future and whether our expectations of what will change are welcome or not.
Beliefs, hopes and expectations of Ireland’s citizens today and for ten years’ time
Commenting at today’s launch, Tim Griffiths, Managing Director of OMD said: “The Future of Ireland captures the beliefs, hopes and expectations of Ireland’s citizens today and for ten years’ time. Its findings show that whilst we live in a society that is fast-changing, Ireland’s traditional optimism triumphs, with respondents feeling positive about the future and in control of their destiny. This snapshot of how we feel and what we want for 2015 is a really valuable insight into communities across Ireland and just the starting point for a wider conversation that we look forward to everyone joining.”
Paul Stanley, interim Chief Executive of Ulster Bank, said: “Ulster Bank is delighted to have this opportunity to listen to people from across the country talk about what matters to them for the future. Like all businesses, we want to be able to understand our customers and communities better. Listening to the insights from this study will enable us to make a more impactful contribution to society both through our business offering and as part of our commitment to being a responsible member of Ireland’s business community. ”
The main findings from the study include:
We’re a positive nation
There’s an overall feeling of optimism from participants in the study, when it comes to our happiness, wealth and relationships. 44% of us believe we will be our lives to be better in 2025 than we are today, 43% of us expect our family relationships to have improved and 48% of us expect to be in a better financial position. When it comes to happiness, 42% of us expect to be happier, with the top three factors in achieving this identified as free universal healthcare by 52%; work-life balance by 50% and freedom of choice by 49%.
We plan on taking greater control of our own destiny
There’s recognition that if we want something then we need to go for it, rather than waiting passively for the future to happen. Over half of us, 51% intend to learn a new skill that will earn us money and nearly a quarter expect to set up their own business while two thirds of us expect to make new friends and take up new hobbies. Over 1 in 5 expects to sell up and opt for a simpler life and 30% expect to live abroad for a year or more.
A female Taoiseach and Dublin on the wane?
Over half of us, 56% believe Ireland will have its first female Taoiseach by 2025. Whilst the influence of both national and local government is expected to largely stay the same, by 2025, when it comes to traditional institutions, 75% of us expect the influence of the Catholic Church to have declined and over 40% of us expect the influence of Irish media, specifically that of RTE and daily newspapers to decline. Over half of us believe that younger generations will hold greater influence than they currently do while older generations are expected by 33% of us to have less influence. Over half of us, 53% believe that foreign companies will have more influence on our daily lives and countries like Germany and China will become more important.
Alongside this, 58% of us anticipate Dublin becoming less important both commercially and politically compared to other Irish cities. Almost two in five of us, 37% would welcome this development, although perhaps not surprisingly Dubliners were less supportive, with only 22% viewing Dublin becoming comparatively less important as a welcome step.
Town and country will continue to diverge
Although we expect Dublin to be less important, when it comes to bridging the differences between urban and rural Ireland, a majority of us, 60% don’t anticipate this happening. This might have something to do with the fact that over half of us believe Ireland’s main streets will struggle to recover in the next ten years from the combined impact of the recession and increasing online shopping – over 62% of us hold this view. And, we aren’t positive about the future levels of coverage of high speed internet access, with only 31% of us thinking this likely to happen even though 83% of us would welcome it.
The United States of Europe?
Today, 69% of us still think of ourselves as being Irish first and European second and 59% of us are proud of our nation’s achievements. But there is a belief that the things that make Ireland different from other countries are fast disappearing and 40% of us expect that by 2025 Ireland will just be a region of a European super state. Even among the younger generation, where life as a European has always been reality, 41% of under than 25s feel that a sense of Irish distinctiveness is being lost.
One of the drivers of the changing sense of Irishness is the impact of immigration and emigration. Over half of us, 51% expect immigrants to have greater influence in the future and some 38% of people expect that there will be more Irish citizens speaking Polish by 2025 than speaking the Irish language. We also expect those who emigrated from Ireland to stay overseas, with only 21% believing emigrants will be back home by 2025.
Marriage in decline but family bonds stronger than ever
One of the most significant trends emerging is the redefining of the traditional family model. 60% of us believe that marriage will be less important but that doesn’t mean we won’t continue to value our family and relationships. Over half of us (51%) now include friends in our definition of family, along with relatives, rising to 71% of under 25s.
Rather than butting heads with older generations, there’s agreement to disagree. Whilst 53% of us say we have different values to our parents when they were the same age, intergenerational relationships are strong, with 63% of people having a strong sense of openness between parents, children and grandparents. Positively, 43% agree that today, different generations get along better.
Actively managing our health
71% of us expect our health to be either the same or better than it currently is in ten years’ time as it is now, with the unsurprising exception to this being the older generations, with 51% of over 60s, expecting their health to worsen. A majority of all ages, 70% plan on taking greater responsibility for managing their health in the future rather than relying on public health services and over half, 54% would be prepared to wear technology devices to monitor their health if it led to reduced insurance premiums.
As Ireland’s population ages, a majority of people, 78% think it is important to discuss the care of ageing parents with them and whilst 45% would be happy to see elderly people cared for by adult children at home, only 21% think this is likely to happen in 2025.