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Statistics show economic highs and lows


  • GDP in Ireland fell by 4.2% in 2008 compared with 2007 (Table 1.1).
  • General government consolidated gross debt increased steeply to 43.2% of GDP in 2008 compared with 25% in 2007 (Table 1.5).
  • The public balance, which was in surplus in recent years, was -7.1% of GDP in 2008. This was the largest deficit of any EU member state. (Table 1.7).
  • Ireland has become less competitive in the last decade, with the Harmonised competitiveness indicator (deflated by consumer prices) increasing by 25.5% between 1999 and 2008 which indicates a significant deterioration in price competitiveness for Ireland vis-a-vis our main trading partners (Table 1.16). Appreciation of the Euro against other major currencies contributed to this decline (Table 1.15).
  • In 2007, Ireland had the second highest price levels in the EU (Table 1.22).
  • The number of dwelling units built increased steadily to reach a peak of almost 90,000 in 2006 before nearly halving to stand at just under 52,000 in 2008 (Graph 8.1).
  • The average value of a new housing loan in Ireland rose from €74,700 in 1998 to €266,400 in 2007. Mortgage interest rates declined over this period from 7.1% to 3.49% in 2005 before rising to 5.25% in 2007 (Table 8.3).
  • The number of murders recorded in Ireland increased from 37 in 2003 to 77 in 2007 (Table 9.4).
  • Life expectancy at birth was estimated at 81.6 years for Irish women and 76.8 years for Irish men in the period 2005-2007. In comparison with 2001-2003, men’s life expectancy increased by 1.7 years and women’s by 1.3 years, reducing the gap between men and women to 4.8 years in 2005-2007, the lowest it has been since the 1970-1972 period (Table 6.3).
  • The population in Ireland increased by 18.2% to 4.42 million persons in the period 1999-2008 (Table 7.1). This was the highest rate of increase in the EU 27 (Graph 7.3). The rate of natural increase of the population in Ireland was 9.8 per 1,000 in 2007 compared with an EU 27 average of just 1.0 (Table 7.6).
  • In 2008, 42.3% of the population aged 25-34 had completed 3rd level education. This was the second highest rate across the EU and well above the EU 27 average of 30.3% (Table 5.7). Irish students aged 15 years had the second highest levels of reading literacy in 2006 (Table 5.9).
  • The pupil-teacher ratio at primary level in Ireland in the school year 2005/2006 was one of the highest in the EU 27 at 19.4. Ten of the reporting EU member states had a pupil-teacher ratio of less than 13 at primary level (Table 5.4).
  • In 2008, Ireland had the second highest GDP per capita in the EU 27 at 43.1% above the EU average. However, based on GNI, Ireland was the fourth highest at 21.5% above the EU 27 average (Table 1.3).
  • An average of €2,673 (at constant 2005 prices) per person was spent on non-capital public expenditure on health care in Ireland in 2006. This represented an increase of over 72% on the 1997 level (Table 6.1).
  • Ireland’s net official development assistance increased to 0.54% of GNI in 2007 from 0.37% in 2003. This was below the UN 2007 target of 0.7% of GNI (Table 4.12).
  • The employment rate in Ireland rose from 62.5% in 1999 to 68.1% in 2008. The rate for women increased by over 9 percentage points over that period, while the rate for men rose by 2 percentage points (Table 3.1). In 2007, Ireland had the tenth highest employment rate in the EU 27 (Table 3.2).
  • Productivity in Ireland, measured as GDP per person employed, was the second highest in the EU 27 in 2008 (Graph 3.4).
  • Ireland had the eighth lowest unemployment rate in the EU in 2008 at less than three-quarters of the EU 27 average of 7.0% (Table 3.6).
  • 5.1% of persons in Ireland were in consistent poverty in 2007 (Table 4.6). 17.2% of unemployed persons were in consistent poverty (Graph 4.7).
  • Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions were at 124.5% of 1990 levels in 2007. This was 11.5 percentage points higher than the Kyoto 2008-2012 target for Ireland of 113% of 1990 levels (Graph 10.1).
  • The percentage of waste landfilled in Ireland decreased from 66% in 2005 to 63.5% in 2007. Glass and metals were the materials most likely to be recycled with 73.7% of glass waste and 62.5% of metal waste recycled in 2007 (Table 10.8).


Editor's note


Measuring Ireland's Progress 2008 is available on the CSO web site (www.cso.ie (PDF 697KB)‌)


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 Helen Cahill at 01 498 4253.

11 August 2009

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