Ireland had the lowest inflation in the EU between 2007 and 2011 but prices remain high by EU standards. Ireland was the fifth most expensive EU state in 2011, after Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg with prices 17% above the EU average. However this represents a considerable improvement on 2008 when Irish prices were the second highest in the EU, at 30% above the EU average, according to the report Measuring Ireland's Progress 2011 (PDF 1,359KB) , published by the CSO today.
After three successive years of falling GDP, Ireland recorded a positive GDP growth rate in 2011 of 1.4%. The public balance deficit was the highest of any EU member state at just over 13% of GDP, while government debt increased to just over 108% of GDP, having been at only 25% of GDP in 2007. The number of new houses and apartments, after peaking at almost 90,000 in 2006, collapsed to 10,480 in 2011, below the level in 1970. Ireland’s employment rate was below the EU average, and its unemployment rate was the fifth highest rate in the EU. The productivity of the Irish workforce remained above the EU average.
Ireland has the highest fertility rate and the lowest divorce rate in the EU, its population is increasing at a higher rate than in any other EU country and it has the highest proportion of young people and the second lowest proportion of old people in the EU. Average class size at primary level in Ireland is the second highest in the EU, though the early school-leaver rate is better than the EU average. The proportion of the population aged 25-34 in Ireland that has completed third-level education is the third highest in the EU. Over the six-year period 2005-2011, the number of kidnapping and related offences increased by over 40% while the number of weapons and explosives offences increased by over a third and the number of controlled drug offences increased by just under a third. The number of murders/manslaughters recorded in Ireland fell from its peak of 84 in 2007 to 44 in 2011.
Economy: The GDP growth rate was 1.4% in 2011. The public balance deficit was 13.1% of GDP, the largest of any EU member state but a big improvement on 2010 when it was 31.2%. And government debt increased substantially to 108.2% of GDP in 2011, the third highest debt/GDP ratio in the EU, having been 24.8% only four years previously. Nonetheless, in 2011 Ireland had the fourth highest GDP per capita in the EU at 27% above the EU average, although, based on GNI, Ireland was the eleventh highest at 2% above the EU average. Ireland’s gross fixed capital formation fell sharply since 2007 to only 10.1% of GDP in 2011, lower than any other EU state. The productivity of the Irish workforce in 2011, measured by GDP per person employed, was nearly 40% higher than the EU average. As Irish employees work longer hours, the productivity per hour worked is relatively lower, but still 28% above the EU average. (Tables 1.3, 1.4, 1.6, 1.10, 1.13, 3.3 and 3.4)
Prices: Inflation in Ireland (as measured by the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices) over the period 2007-2011 was the lowest in the EU. Ireland had the fifth highest price levels in the EU in 2011 with prices 17% above the EU average and only Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg were more expensive. However this is an improvement on 2008 when price levels in Ireland were 30% above the EU average and were the second highest in the EU. (Tables 1.21 and 1.23)
Employment and unemployment: The employment rate (for those aged 15-64) in Ireland rose from 65.2% in 2002 to 69.2% in 2007, but fell to 59.1% by 2012. The male employment rate was stable over the 2002 to 2008 period at about 76% but fell sharply over the next three years to 62.9% in 2012. The female employment rate increased from 55.2% in 2002 to 60.7% in 2007 before falling to 55.4% in 2012. In 2011, Ireland’s employment rate was below the EU average, and its unemployment rate was the fifth highest rate in the EU. (Tables 3.1, 3.2 and 3.6)
Social cohesion: In 2010, 6.2% of the population were in consistent poverty. This was an increase on the level recorded in 2009, when 5.5% of the population was living in consistent poverty. Voter turnout at Dáil elections gradually declined from over 76% in the 1970s to less than 63% in 2002 before increasing to nearly 70% in February 2011. There was a general decline in voting turnout in most EU countries between 1985 and 2010. Ireland’s net official development assistance increased from 0.52% of GNI in 2006 to 0.59% in 2008, before declining to 0.51% in 2010, which is short of the UN 2007 target of 0.7%. (Tables 4.6, 4.9, 4.10 and 4.12)
Education: Real expenditure per student in Ireland increased over the period 2002-2011 by close to a third at first level and by 27% at second level. However there was a decrease of 13.8% at third level over the same time period. In 2011, 46.3% of the population aged 25-34 had completed third level education, the third highest rate across the EU. The proportion of the Irish population aged 18-24 who left school with at most lower secondary education was 10.6% in 2011, better than the EU average of 13.5%. Average class size at primary level in Ireland in 2009/2010 was 24.1, the second highest in the EU. (Tables 5.1, 5.5, 5.6, 5.7 and 5.12)
Health: Current public expenditure on health care in Ireland averaged €3,219 per person in 2010 (at constant 2011 prices), an increase of close to a third on 2001. Life expectancy at birth in Ireland in 2010, as calculated by Eurostat, is 78.7 years for males and 83.2 years for females, above the EU averages. A 65-year old man in Ireland can now expect to live a further 16.6 years, while a 65-year old woman can expect to live 19.8 years. (Tables 6.1, 6.3 and 6.4)
Population: Ireland had the highest percentage increase in population between 2001 and 2011 in the EU. The rate of natural increase of the population in Ireland was 10.4 per 1,000 in 2010 compared with an EU average of only 1.0. Ireland had the highest fertility rate in the EU in 2010 at 2.07; the EU average was 1.59. The divorce rate in Ireland was 0.7 divorces per 1,000 population in 2010, the lowest rate in the EU. In 2011, Ireland had the highest proportion of young people (0-14) in the EU, and the second lowest proportion of old people (65 and over); these combined to give Ireland an age dependency ratio that was similar to the EU average. (Tables 7.4, 7.7, 7.9, 7.11 and 7.14)
Housing: The number of dwelling units built increased sharply to peak at almost 90,000 in 2006 before collapsing to 10,480 in 2011, below the level in 1970. The average value of a new housing loan in Ireland rose from €114,800 in 2001 to €270,200 in 2008 before dropping by nearly a quarter to €206,700 in 2010. (Tables 8.1 and 8.3)
Crime: The number of kidnapping and related offences increased by over 40% over the six year period 2005-2011, the number of weapons and explosives offences increased by over a third and the number of controlled drug offences increased by just under a third. However, the number of murders/manslaughters in Ireland decreased from its peak of 84 in 2007 to 44 in 2011. (Tables 9.1 and 9.6)
Environment: Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions were at 110% of 1990 levels in 2010. This was lower than the Kyoto 2008-2012 target (by three percentage points). The level of acid rain precursor emissions fell from 464.6 SO2 equivalent per 1,000 tonnes of gas emitted in 2000 to 318.1 in 2008, 4% above the Gothenburg Protocol 2010 target level of 306. This decrease is mainly due to lower levels of sulphur dioxide emissions. The percentage of waste recovered in Ireland rose to 38% in 2010, from just under a quarter in 2003, and 53% of waste was landfilled. The landfill percentage varies widely in EU states, from 98.5% in Bulgaria to only 0.3% in Germany, where recycling and incineration rates are high. (Tables 10.1, 10.7, 10.8 and 10.9)
Measuring Ireland’s Progress 2011 is available on the CSO web site: http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/measuringirelandsprogress/.
The report may be purchased from:
The Central Statistics Office, Information Section, Skehard Road, Cork,
Government Publications Sales Office, Sun Alliance House, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2.
For further information:
Helen Cahill at 01 498 4253 or Adrian Redmond at 01 498 4309.
Central Statistics Office 10 October 2012
– ENDS –