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Welcome to the 2019 edition of Measuring Ireland's Progress and the eighth edition designed for the web and mobile devices.

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 have 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 2019 and Regional SDGs Ireland 2017. This report is the seventeenth in the Measuring Ireland’s Progress series. The CSO also publishes the Macroeconomic Scoreboard 2019, an annual process which the European Commission undertakes using a scoreboard of eleven headline indicators and 28 auxiliary indicators to screen for and correct any macroeconomic imbalances that may occur in Member States.

Internationally there has been an increasing level of interest in national progress indicators. A number of other European countries have published similar reports (e.g., Spain and Germany) and the OECD publishes an annual Factbook covering more than 100 indicators. The OECD is also actively involved in measuring well-being and progress through their OECD Better Life Initiative and their publication How's Life? 2020 Measuring Well-being.

Pádraig Dalton,

Director General

This web-based edition of Measuring Ireland’s Progress is organised so that sixty indicators are presented in five themes – Society, Economy, Environment, Education and Health.

Most indicators are presented in both a national and an international context. The EU27 is referenced throughout this report as the UK is no longer a member of the European Union. The national context is generally in a time series format while the international context compares Ireland with other EU27 countries and, where available, with the UK, three European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) and five countries (Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey) who were official EU candidate countries in 2019. The appendices describe the indicator definitions and data sources in greater detail. Where a graph and/or map is available for an indicator this will be indicated below the text for that indicator.

As the indicators in this report are predominantly pre-2020, they do not reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following symbol is used 

:    data is not available. 


In 2020, the population estimate for Ireland was 4.98m, meaning that 1 in every 100 people in the EU27 lived in Ireland. Ireland had the fourth highest population increase (9.1%) in the EU27 between 2010 and 2020. Germany had the largest population in the EU27 in 2020, at 83.2m, and accounted for 19 in every 100 people in the EU27.

The number of people aged 65 and over in Ireland grew by over a third (39.8%) between 2010 and 2020, an increase of 205,000 persons.

In 2018, Ireland had a fertility rate of 1.8. This is tied with Romania and Sweden as the second highest rate in the EU27, after France (at 1.9). All EU27 countries had a fertility rate below the theoretical replacement rate of 2.1.

Ireland’s exports and imports were 210.0% and 189.5% of Modified Gross National Income (GNI*) respectively in 2019. These high levels of imports and exports demonstrate that Ireland’s economy is very open.

Prices in Ireland were the second highest in the EU27 in 2019, after Denmark, at 35.4% above the EU27 average. Ireland had the highest labour productivity in the EU27 in 2019, as measured by GDP per hour worked, at 78.9% above the EU27 average. Excluding the Foreign Sector (to exclude globalisation effects), Ireland had a labour productivity 11.6% higher than the EU27 average.

Municipal waste in Ireland dropped by 9.7% between 2008 and 2018, falling from 3.22 to 2.91 million tonnes. Over the same time period, the amount of waste recovered rose from 36.1% to 84.1% of total waste generated.

In 2018, Ireland’s net greenhouse gas emissions rose above the limit in the Kyoto Protocol by 0.6%.

Ireland had 445 passenger cars per 1,000 inhabitants in 2018, the seventh lowest ratio in the EU27.

The NEET rate (neither in employment nor in education and training) for young people in Ireland aged 18-24 was 12.4% in 2019, below the EU27 average of 13.2%.

The number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates in Ireland was 35.2 per 1,000 persons aged 20-29 in 2018, the highest rate in the EU27. Ireland also had the highest gender differential in STEM graduates in the EU27, with 47.3 male graduates and 23.0 female graduates per 1,000 persons aged 20-29.

Male life expectancy at birth in Ireland was 80.5 years in 2018, while female life expectancy was 3.6 years higher at 84.1 years. Italy had the highest life expectancy for males at 81.2 years, while Spain had the highest for females at 86.3 years.

Public health spending per capita, in constant 2018 prices, increased from €3,002 to €3,371 between 2008 and 2018 in Ireland, an increase of 12.3%.


Population: Ireland accounted for 1.1% of the total EU27 population in 2020 and had the fourth highest percentage increase in population between 2010 and 2020. Ireland had a fertility rate of 1.8 in 2018. This is tied with Sweden and Romania as the second highest rate in the EU27, after France (at 1.9). The average age of first time mothers in Ireland in 2018 was 30.5 years old, above the EU27 average of 29.3 years.

The divorce rate in Ireland was 0.7 divorces per 1,000 population in 2017 (as did Malta), the lowest rate in the EU27. Ireland had the highest young-age dependency ratio (the percentage of the population aged under 15 years as a proportion of those aged 15-64) in the EU27 at 31.4%, and the second lowest old-age dependency ratio (the percentage of the population aged over 65 as a proportion of those aged 15-64) at 21.6%. These combined to give Ireland a dependency ratio of 53.0%, just 1.9 percentage points less than the EU27 average of 54.9%. (Tables 1.2, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7 and 1.8)

Health: Current public expenditure on health care in Ireland averaged €3,371 per person in 2018 (at constant 2018 prices), an increase of 12.3% on 2008. Life expectancy at birth in Ireland in 2018, as calculated by Eurostat, was 84.1 years for females, 0.4 years greater than the EU27 average. The male life expectancy at birth in Ireland was 80.5 years, 2.3 years above the EU27 average. A 65 year old man in Ireland can now expect to live for a further 18.3 years while a 65 year old woman can look forward to another 21.0 years.

The predicted healthy life years at birth for females in Ireland was 70.4 years in 2018, the third highest rate in the EU27 and 6.2 years above the EU27 average. Male healthy life years at birth in Ireland in 2018 was 68.4 years, also the third highest rate in the EU27 and 4.7 years higher than the EU27 average.

Irish males can expect to spend 15.0% of their life expectancy in poor health, the fourth lowest rate in the EU27. Males in Finland, Latvia, Slovenia, Austria, and Estonia can anticipate spending over a quarter of their life expectancy in poor health. Females in Ireland can expect to spend 16.3% of their life expectancy in poor health, the fourth lowest rate in the EU27. In Estonia, Finland, and Slovenia, females are predicted to spend at least a third of their life in poor health (33.5%, 34.1% and 35.3% respectively), and the highest rates in the EU27. (Tables 5.1, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 5.6 and 5.7)

Environment: There were 445 passenger cars per 1,000 inhabitants in Ireland in 2018, the seventh lowest rate in the EU27. The highest number of cars per 1,000 inhabitants was in Luxembourg at 676, while the lowest was in Romania at 332.

The quantity of municipal waste generated per person in Ireland dropped by 16.6% over the 2008 to 2018 period, from 718.9 to 599.6kg. In all 14.4% of municipal waste was landfilled in 2018, below the EU27 average of 23.6%. The landfill percentage varies widely in EU27 states, from less than 1.0% in Finland, Germany, and Sweden (where recycling and incineration rates are high), to over 75.0% in Greece and Malta. The quantity of waste landfilled in Ireland dropped by 78.4% between 2008 and 2018 from 1.94 to 0.42 million tonnes.

In 2019, diesel vehicles were the most common type of vehicle licensed for the first time at 57.0% (or 85,284 vehicles). This was followed by petrol vehicles (49,132 or 32.8%), petrol/electric hybrids (10,165 or 6.8%), electric only vehicles (3,803 or 2.5%), and plug-in electric hybrids (1,349 or 0.9%).

 (Tables 3.7, 3.8, 3.9 and 3.11)

Education: Real expenditure per student increased over the period 2007-2016 by 2.3% at primary level. However, there was a decrease of 7.4% at secondary level and 34.4% at third level over the same time period. In 2020, more than half (53.1%) of the population aged 25-34 had completed third level education, the fourth highest rate across the EU27.

One in eight (12.4%) of those aged 18-24 in Ireland in 2019 was neither in employment nor in education and training (the NEET rate). The EU27 average NEET rate was 13.2% and varied from a low of 5.5% in the Netherlands to 23.2% in Italy. Ireland had the highest proportion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates in the EU27 in 2018. The proportion of graduates in these disciplines was 35.2 per 1,000 of the population aged 20-29 in Ireland, while the EU27 average was 19.6. (Tables 4.1, 4.4, 4.6 and 4.7)

Prices: Ireland had the second highest price levels in the EU27 in 2019, with prices 35.4% above the EU27 average. Only Denmark was more expensive with price levels at 40.8% above the EU27 average. (Table 2.13)

Employment and unemployment: The employment rate in Ireland fell from 70.3% in 2008 to 59.8% in 2012 before rising to 69.1% in 2019, just below the EU27 average of 68.4%. The highest employment rate in 2018 in the EU27 was in the Netherlands at 78.2% while the lowest rate was in Greece at 56.5%.

The unemployment rate in Ireland rose from 6.1% in 2008 to 15.9% in 2012 before decreasing to 5.4% in 2019. Ireland had the twelfth lowest unemployment rate in the EU27, with the lowest rate in the Czech Republic at 2.1% and the highest in Greece at 17.5%. (Tables 2.14 and 2.16)

Housing: The number of new dwellings in Ireland increased by 361.9% between 2011 and 2019, from 6,994 to 21,133. In the same time period, the number of apartments increased by 331.9% (822 to 3,550), scheme houses rose by 821.6% (1,358 to 12,516), and single houses increased by 5.3% (4,814 to 5,067). Nationally, residential property prices decreased 33.6% between 2010 and 2013, before increasing 78.7% from 2013 to 2020. (Tables 2.19 and 2.20)

Social cohesion: The at risk of poverty rate in Ireland was 12.8% in 2019, which was below the EU27 rate of 16.5%. In 2019, 5.5% of the population in Ireland was in consistent poverty. Ireland’s net official development assistance was 0.3% of GNI in 2019, the fifth highest rate in the EU27, but below the UN target of 0.7%. (Tables 1.9, 1.10 and 1.15)

Economy: The GDP growth rate for Ireland in 2019 was 5.6%, the highest in the EU27 and above the EU27 average of 1.6%. Italy had the lowest GDP growth rate in the EU27 in 2019 at 0.3%, however no country experienced negative growth. In 2019, Ireland had the second highest GDP per capita in the EU27 at 93% above the EU27 average.

The public balance deficit in 2019 was 0.5% of GDP, greater than the EU27 average of -0.5% and a significant improvement on 2010 when it was -32.1%. Government debt dropped in 2019 to 57.4% of GDP (below the EU27 average of 57.4%), having been 119.9 in 2012. Ireland’s gross fixed capital formation was 45.6% of GDP in 2019, above the EU27 average of 22.1%.

The productivity of the Irish workforce, excluding the Foreign Sector and as measured by GDP per hour worked, was 11.6% higher than the EU27 average. (Tables 2.3, 2.4, 2.6, 2.8, and 2.15)

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