Research by the Economic and Social Research Institute suggests that the main burden of the economic crisis is being borne by the younger half of the Irish population.

It says unemployment and high levels of negative equity are more prevalent among those aged under-45.

The institute says this has led to a very sharp drop in spending by this age group.

About half of Ireland’s 1.6m households are headed by someone aged under-45.

The ESRI says younger people are more likely to have lost their jobs, and are more likely to have bought property at the top of the boom.

While household incomes for under-45s have gone down by 8%, their spending on consumption, including housing, has gone down by 20%.

By contrast, spending by people over-45 has not declined.