Introduction Irish Travellers, a nomadic minority group in Ireland, experience multi-faceted social deprivation. The All Ireland Traveller Health Study (AITHS) 2007–2011 of an estimated 10 000 families in both Irish jurisdictions shows little improvement in most measured indicators since the last systematic assessment in 1987. The Human Development Index (HDI), measures long term basic dimensions including life expectancy, access to knowledge and an adequate standard of living. In 2010, using the improved HDI calculation, Republic of Ireland (ROI) was placed fifth (HDI=0.895) in the world league (2005–2009: 0.894). The aim of this analysis is to calculate the HDI of Irish Travellers for 2008.
Methods The AITHS census, a comprehensive 45 min census interview employing a novel audio-visual computer-assisted instrument, was conducted with Traveller families by 180 trained peer researcher teams over a 6 week period commencing on 14th October 2008. A retrospective mortality study over past 1 year was also conducted. Data from both were used to construct the HDI for Irish Travellers.
Results The family response rate was 79%. Life expectancy at birth was estimated at 61.7 years for men, 70.1 for women. Mean years of schooling was 8.1 (SD 4) and 94% of Irish Travellers were below the poverty line. Calculated HDI for Irish Travellers in 2008 is 0.713, 0.181 below ROI's HDI.
Conclusion There is a 20.2% difference in HDI for Travellers compared to the general population. This is wider than seen for other indigenous minority populations worldwide and has important cross-sectoral policy implications. (250 words).
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