Back to Top

 Skip navigation

Statistics show Ireland's progress

The report Measuring Ireland's Progress, 2004, published by the CSO today, shows the progress made in Ireland in important economic, social and environmental areas. As well as showing developments over time, the report benchmarks the situation in Ireland against the other EU Member States.

Key findings of the report include:

  • The population in Ireland increased by 12.3% to over 4 million persons in the period 1995-2004. This was the second highest rate of increase in the EU and was significantly higher than the EU 25 growth of just 2.2%. The fertility rate in Ireland remained the highest in the EU 25 in 2003, at a rate of 1.98 compared to an EU average of 1.48.
  • Life expectancy at birth was 80.3 years for Irish women and 75.1 years for Irish men in the period 2001-2003. Life expectancy for men in Ireland was slightly above the EU 25 average of 74.8 years but that for women was 0.8 years below the corresponding EU 25 figure of 81.1 years.
  • The proportion of persons aged 25-34 in Ireland with 3rd level education rose from 27.1% in 1999 to 39.4% in 2004. The corresponding EU 25 rate in 2004 was 24.8%.
  • In 2003, Ireland had the second highest GDP per capita within the enlarged EU which was almost one-third higher than the EU 25 average. On the basis of GNI, which adjusts for some Globalisation effects, Ireland was 11% above the EU 25 average.
  • Ireland remains one of the most successful EU states at attracting foreign investment, with direct inward investment flows representing 17% of GDP in 2003. This was ten times the corresponding Eurozone rate of 1.7% of GDP.
  • The public balance in Ireland was significantly in surplus during the late 1990s. However, over the period 2000-2003 the public balance decreased from a surplus of 4.4% of GDP to a small surplus of 0.1% of GDP. In 2003, four Eurozone member states exceeded the 3% of GDP deficit limit under the EMU Stability and Growth Pact.
  • Ireland is significantly behind the EU leaders, Sweden and Finland, in innovation and technology indicators such as investment in research and technology and new patent applications.
  • The employment rate in Ireland rose from 54% in 1995 to 65.5% in 2004 which was higher than the EU 25 average of 63% in 2004.
  • The unemployment rate in Ireland increased from a low point of 3.6% in 2001 to 4.4% in 2004. However, Ireland still had the second lowest unemployment rate in the EU in 2004 at less than half of the EU 25 average.
  • The unemployment rate for early school leavers aged 18-24 was 21.8% in 2004 compared with an unemployment rate of 7.9% for all persons aged 18-24.
  • Ireland's international trade competitiveness has deteriorated since 2000, mainly due to higher inflation and an appreciating euro. Cumulative inflation in Ireland over the period 2000-2004 was 16% compared to an EU 25 average of 9%.
  • The proportion of Irish people at risk of poverty after pensions (in particular) and social transfers was 21% in 2003. This was one of the highest rates in the EU.
  • Ireland's net official development assistance amounted to 0.39% of GNI in 2003. This was below both the UN 2007 target of 0.7% of GNI and the interim Irish Government 2002 target of 0.45% of GNI.
  • Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions were at 131% of 1990 levels in 2001. This was 16% higher than the Kyoto 2008-2012 target for Ireland of 113% of 1990 levels. The situation improved in the period 2002-2003 with emissions decreasing to a level of 124.7% of 1990 levels or 10.4% above the Kyoto target in 2003.
  • The percentage of waste landfilled in Ireland decreased from 87% in 2001 to 72% in 2003. Paper and glass were the materials most likely to be recycled with 39% of paper waste and 42% of glass waste recycled in 2003.

Editor's note

Measuring Ireland's Progress 2004 is available on the CSO web site (

For copies of the publications contact:

The Central Statistics Office, Information Section, Skehard Road, Cork
Government Publications Sales Office, Sun Alliance House, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2
Price:€ 5

For further information:

Gerry Brady at 01 498 4201 or Gillian Roche at 01 498 4202.

31 March 2005

- ENDS -