In recent years, there has been a massive increase in Irish people of all ages enrolling or re-enrolling in third level education in order to better themselves, increase their job prospects and secure more professional work placements. This dramatic increase is mainly due to the crash of the Irish Economic Boom in 2008, in which many found themselves out of work or unable to secure full time employment due to insufficient higher level educational qualifications. Many higher level educated individuals were still victims of the crash but had better chances achieving other employment abroad and at home. Due to the massive amounts of unemployed during the harshest period of the crash, crime was at an all-time high. There was an increase in crime within the sectors of theft and burglary, which ranges from aggravated to petty. All in all 2008 to 2010 were the toughest years in recent times for the Irish people.
We wish to highlight, through visualization tools, the increase of individuals returning to education and how it is having a considerable effect on crime and deprivation in Irish society. The image below is an interactive doughnut-chart indicating the increase of those entering and returning back to third level degree/higher education over the last 12 years, from boom to bust and back again.
The above doughnut-chart was created using Datamatic.io, which is a partly free online interactive tool and can also be linked to one’s Google Drive. We used the Central Statistics Office and Central Applications Office of Ireland to gather the relevant data-sets for student enrollment over a 12 year period from 2004 to 2015. The amount of those enrolling/returning to third level education has increased from 143271 individuals in 2004 to 182623 in 2015. The largest increase can be seen during the period of 2009 and 2010 of 4366, which is very noticeable on the main interactive graph and is also within the period best known as the height of the downturn. This period also sees a substantial decline in crime but an increase in deprivation, indicating a direct correlation between the three.
As the recession arrived in 2008, people began to struggle and along with this many people lost their jobs. This led to an increase in people returning to further their education and try get jobs either at home or abroad. However, with this dip in the economy came a rise in thefts and burglaries around these years as can be seen from the interactive graph above which was created using an online tool called Data-wrapper. This information was gathered from the Central Statistics Office’s crime offences records. These record are split up between the counties Garda stations and yearly quarters. We specifically chose theft and burglaries as representations of crime increase due to the large increase in both during this time frame compared to other crimes. As more and more people chose to further their education in recent times, with an increase of approximately 40,000 new students entering third level education in comparison to ten years ago, there has also been a drop in the number of burglary and theft related incidents in recent times. It could be said that the improvement in the economy in conjunction with a more educated population has led to a decrease in theft and burglary related crimes. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues in the coming years.
As seen in the above graph, which was also created using the visualization tool Datawrapper, we can discern that there are similarities between the deprivation rate and the previous data. This rate is based upon the average living standard of a person with a third level qualification, or more specifically, their inability to provide a stable income or provide themselves with an adequate living standard. Following the Irish Economic crash and subsequent recession which commenced in 2008, deprivation rates amongst individuals who have graduated from tertiary education began to rise significantly. Between the years 2013 and 2009 there had been an increase of nearly 7%. As of 2015, the deprivation rate is still higher than at the time of the boom The reason why this is interesting is that is seen above, is that due to the financial crisis people entering Tertiary Education increased significantly. The socially agreed upon solution to poverty is to educate its population. This brings up many questions, such as the standard of Third Level qualifications, but more significantly it proves that even though an increased number of people are pursuing further education, the poverty amongst those with a third level (or higher) qualification has increased. This increase of deprivation is similar to the rise in crime following the crash.
The above graphs represent the percentage of Irish people who fall under the poverty threshold or who are at risk of falling under this threshold. The first graph represents this in relation to those who have not gone to college and the second represents those who have received a Third level degree or higher that are at risk of poverty. We can see that between 2006 and 2015 those who had received a third level degree never rose above 6.5% while those without a third level degree soared over 10% in 2012. While it is now more advantageous to have a degree as seen by the difference in poverty rate in 2015 being 6% in Non-Degree members of the public versus 2.5% of those with degrees, it was not always the case to be in a vastly better position. As we can see in 2007, the difference between Non-Degree (1.5%) and Degree (2%) members of the public was in at a 0.5% favoring those of the public who did not have a degree. It was later around 2008-2010, during the recovery from the Celtic Tiger bust that we see the skill-sets of those with degrees come into play where they became less likely to be at risk of poverty and less members of this set were in constant poverty when compared to their Non-Degree counterparts. We also see that after 2011, the Non-Degree deprivation rate also glides ahead of their Degree counterparts and even in 2015 their is ~1.5% disparity between the two.
Using this interactive visualization and comparing the discrepancies over the years between both factions here we can see the major appeal to gain a third level degree in today’s world and also how those with degrees are more likely to remain less pressured when a crisis situation such as a recession hits again in the future.
With the use of multiple visualization tools we wished to highlight how the increase of those enrolling/returning to third level education have had a direct influence on crime in Ireland. The argument we wished to highlight is that a better educated society can have drastic effects on the criminal aspects of a society. In researching the available data-sets we were surprised to see an increase in deprivation and poverty even though education numbers had increased and crime was decreasing. The increase in deprivation and poverty highlighted how difficult it is for those trying to further their education in order to increase their availability within the workplace. Only from 2013 on wards we can see a slow decline in deprivation and poverty. This can be associated with the increase of back to education schemes and other further education allowances. Education is one of the fundamental corner stones in any developing society and need continuous encouragement in order for it to be successful.
Our data was primarily collected from the Irish central statistic office website (http://cso.ie/en/index.html). The Statbank on the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) under the Social Conditions file was critical in completion of our project. We downloaded relevant data tables and then compiled the data in a way readable the tools we used (namely Datawrapper, Datamatics and RAW Graphs). These free online tools would then use our compiled data to create visualizations. It was only a simple matter of later refining our graphs and making sure our data was easy to read for a first time viewer. The visualizations we created include:
- We used all data-sets of enrollments all over the country from 2004 to 2016.
- We used all data-sets of crimes in the country from 2004 to 2015.
- We used all data-sets of the deprivation rates for third level students from 2004 to 2016.
- We used all data-sets for the poverty percentages of third level students from 2004 to 2016.
In total we have over 20 folders of data-sets which we gathered the relevant information from in order to create our visualization in order to argue out hypothesis.
- Central Statistics Office, Ireland, Governmental free data access, Accessed March 11, 2017. http://www.cso.ie/en/