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Welcome to the tenth publication of Measuring Ireland’s Progress and the first edition designed for mobile devices and the web. The CSO started a program of publishing releases in this way at the start of 2013 and now almost all of our releases are being published for the web. Measuring Ireland’s Progress is the first publication to be published this way and we would welcome feedback, both in terms of the content and the layout, as an input into the further development of Measuring Ireland’s Progress. 


The progress indicators used in this report provide an overall view of the social, economic, environment, education and health situation in Ireland.  From the feedback we received on earlier reports, users have found it useful to have a diverse set of important indicators brought together in one report. A similar approach has also been followed in other CSO publications such as Women and Men in Ireland and Regional Quality of Life in Ireland. In June 2012 the CSO launched a new web-based report which brought together national data on 27 key short-term economic indicators in a timely and accessible way.


Internationally there has been an increasing level of interest in national progress indicators. A number of other EU countries have published similar reports (e.g., Spain and Germany) and the OECD publishes an annual Factbook covering more than 100 indicators. The OECD are also actively involved in measuring well-being and progress through their OECD Better Life Initiative and their work programme on measuring progress.


Pádraig Dalton,

Director General






The social partnership agreement 2003-2005 requested the CSO to support a move towards more evidence-based policy-making by developing a set of national progress indicators. A preliminary set of national progress indicators, Measuring Ireland’s Progress, was published in December 2003. Since then the CSO has published Measuring Ireland’s Progress annually and this report is the tenth in the series.


This web-based edition of Measuring Ireland’s Progress has been re-organised so that the fifty seven indicators are presented in five themes:

            Theme             Sub-theme

            Society            Population                                

                                    Social cohesion


            Economy         Finance

                                    Employment and unemployment                        






Most indicators are presented in both a national and an international context. The national context is generally in a time series format while the international context compares Ireland with other EU countries, and where available, with three EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) and the three countries (Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey) who were official candidates in 2012. (Croatia joined the EU on 1 July 2013.) In cases where tables are not sorted by year, the ranking variable is highlighted with a darker background. The appendices describe the indicator definitions and data sources in greater detail.


A set of icons (see below) is displayed with each indicator. The first icon indicates that a graph is available for the indicator and the second that a map is available. The third icon will display the data in excel and the last icon can be used to print the indicator.


Measuring Irelands Progress 2012 Icons to use in Introduction







Ireland was the only country in the EU to experience a decrease in inflation between 2008 and 2012 but prices remain high by EU standards. Ireland was the fifth most expensive EU state in 2012, after Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg with prices 15% 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.


GDP rose slightly by 0.2% in 2012. The public balance deficit was the third highest of any EU member state at just over 8% of GDP, while government debt increased to 117.4% of GDP, having been at only 44.2% of GDP in 2008. The number of new houses and apartments, after peaking at almost 90,000 in 2006, collapsed to 8,488 in 2012, below the level in 1970.  Ireland’s employment rate was the fifth lowest in the EU, and its unemployment rate was the fifth highest in the EU. The productivity of the Irish workforce remained above the EU average.


Ireland has the highest fertility rate and the second lowest divorce rate in the EU. Its population is increasing at the third highest rate in the EU 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 fourth highest in the EU. Over the period 2007-2012, the number of sexual offences increased by 50% while the number of robbery, extortion and hijacking offences over the same time period rose by nearly 30%. The number of homicide offences recorded in Ireland fell from 132 in 2007 to 79 in 2012, a decrease of just over 40%.


Economy:  The GDP growth rate was 0.2% in 2012. The public balance deficit was 8.2% of GDP, the third largest in the EU but a big improvement on 2010 when it was 30.6%. Government debt increased substantially to 117.4% of GDP in 2012, the fourth highest debt/GDP ratio in the EU, having been 44.2% only four years previously. Nonetheless, in 2012 Ireland had the third highest GDP per capita in the EU at 29% above the EU average, although, based on GNI, Ireland was the eleventh highest at 5% above the EU average. Ireland’s gross fixed capital formation fell sharply since 2008 to only 10% of GDP in 2012, lower than any other EU state. The productivity of the Irish workforce in 2012, measured by GDP per person employed, was 43% higher than the EU average. As Irish employees work longer hours, the productivity per hour worked is relatively lower, but still 29% above the EU average. (Tables 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, 2.8 and 2.15)


Prices: Ireland was the only country in the EU to experience a decrease in inflation (as measured by the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices) between 2008 and 2012. Ireland had the fifth highest price levels in the EU in 2012 with prices 15% 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 2.12 and 2.13)


Employment and unemployment: The employment rate (for those aged 15-64) in Ireland rose from 65.2% in 2003 to 69.1% in 2007, but fell to 58.8% by 2012. However the employment rate increased slightly in 2013 to 60.2%. The male employment rate was stable over the 2003 to 2008 period at about 76% but fell sharply over the next three years to 62.4% in 2012 before increasing slightly to 64.6% in 2013. The female employment rate increased from 55.4% in 2003 to 60.6% in 2007 before falling to 55.2% in 2012 and increasing slightly to 55.9% in 2013. In 2012, Ireland’s employment rate was the fifth lowest in the EU, and its unemployment rate was the fifth highest rate in the EU. (Tables 2.14 and 2.16)


Social cohesion: The at risk of poverty rate in Ireland was 15% in 2011 which was below the EU rate of 17%. In 2011 6.9% of the population were in consistent poverty. This was an increase on the level recorded in 2010, when 6.3% of the population was living in consistent poverty. Ireland’s net official development assistance increased from 0.53% of GNI in 2007 to 0.59% in 2008, before declining to 0.5% in 2011, which is short of the UN 2007 target of 0.7%. (Tables 1.8, 1.10 and 1.13)


Education: Real expenditure per student in Ireland increased over the period 2003-2012 by 16% at first level and by 12% at second level. However there was a decrease of a fifth (20.1%) at third level over the same time period.  In 2012 nearly half (46.9%) of the population aged 25-34 had completed third level education, the fourth highest rate across the EU. A tenth of the Irish population aged 18-24 left school with at most lower secondary education in 2012, better than the EU average of 13%. Average class size at primary level in Ireland in 2010/2011 was 24.1, the second highest in the EU. (Tables 4.1, 4.5, 4.6 and 4.8)


Health: Current public expenditure on health care in Ireland averaged €3,044 per person in 2011 (at constant 2012 prices), an increase of 15% on 2002. Life expectancy at birth in Ireland in 2011, as calculated by Eurostat, is 83 years for females, which is 0.4 years above the EU average. The male life expectancy at birth in Ireland was 78.6 years, nearly two years above the EU average. 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 5.1, 5.3 and 5.4)


Population: Ireland had the third highest percentage increase in population between 2002 and 2012 in the EU. Ireland had the highest fertility rate in the EU in 2011 at 2.04; the EU average was 1.57. The divorce rate in Ireland was 0.7 divorces per 1,000 population in 2011, the second lowest rate in the EU. In 2012, 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 1.1, 1.5, 1.6 and 1.7)


Housing: The number of dwelling units built increased sharply to peak at almost 90,000 in 2006 before collapsing to 8,488 in 2012, below the level in 1970. The average value of a new housing loan in Ireland rose from €159,600 in 2003 to €270,200 in 2008 before dropping by over a third to €173,600 in 2012. (Tables 2.19 and 2.20)


Crime: The number of sexual offences increased by 50% between 2007 and 2012, while the number of robbery, extortion and hijacking offences over the same time period rose by nearly 30% and the number of burglary and related offences increased by nearly 19%. However the number of homicide offences fell by just over 40% between 2007 and 2012, from 132 to 79. There were also decreases in public order and other social code offences, which fell by nearly 28% over the same time period, while damage to property and to the environment fell by nearly 25%. (Table 1.15)


Environment: Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions were at 106% of 1990 levels in 2011. This was lower than the Kyoto 2008-2012 target (by seven 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 43% in 2011, from just under a quarter in 2003, and 48% of waste was landfilled in 2011, a decrease on the 2003 figure of 61%. The landfill percentage varies widely in EU states, from 93% in Bulgaria to only 0.5% in Germany, where recycling and incineration rates are high. (Tables 3.1, 3.4, 3.5 and 3.6)


Technical notes


In some tables, both GDP and GNI data have been given for Ireland because Ireland, along with Luxembourg, are exceptions in the EU with a wide divergence between GDP and GNI. Wherever possible, international tables include the total for all 27 EU member states. The national and international data sources are given for each indicator. Most of the national data are compiled by the CSO. In some cases, the survey name more widely used at EU level is quoted. For example, the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) is referred to as the EU Labour Force Survey (LFS).


QNHS results for all years in this report are presented for Q2 (quarter two).


The figures in the tables and graphs reflect the data available as of the end of 2013.


The following symbol is used:

:  data not available.