Welcome to the 2020 edition of Measuring Ireland's Progress and the ninth 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 eighteenth in the Measuring Ireland’s Progress series. The CSO also publishes the Macroeconomic Scoreboard 2020, 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.
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 2020. 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.
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In 2021, the population estimate for Ireland was 5.01m, meaning that 1 in every 100 people in the EU27 lived in Ireland. Ireland had the fourth highest population increase (9.5%) in the EU27 between 2011 and 2021. Germany had the largest population in the EU27 in 2021, 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 2011 and 2021, an increase of 211,000 persons.
In 2019, Ireland had a fertility rate of 1.7. This tied with Sweden, Czech Republic, Denmark and Estonia as the third highest rate in the EU27, after France (at 1.9) and Romania (at 1.8%). All EU27 countries had a fertility rate below the theoretical replacement rate of 2.1.
Ireland’s exports and imports were 234.8% and 194.9% of Modified Gross National Income (GNI*) respectively in 2020. 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 2020, after Denmark, at 40.0% above the EU27 average. Ireland had the highest labour productivity in the EU27 in 2020, as measured by GDP per hour worked, at 89.2% above the EU27 average. Excluding the Foreign Sector (to exclude globalisation effects), Ireland had a labour productivity 10.9% higher than the EU27 average.
Municipal waste in Ireland rose by 4.5% between 2009 and 2019, increasing from 2.95 to 3.09 million tonnes. Over the same time period, the amount of waste recovered rose from 37.3% to 83.1% of total waste generated.
In 2019, Ireland’s net greenhouse gas emissions fell below the limit in the Kyoto Protocol by 3.1 percentage points.
Ireland had 454 passenger cars per 1,000 inhabitants in 2019, 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 14.8% in 2020, above the EU27 average of 14.4%.
The number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates in Ireland was 36.9 per 1,000 persons aged 20-29 in 2019, the highest rate in the EU27. Ireland also had the highest gender differential in STEM graduates in the EU27, with 49.7 male graduates and 23.9 female graduates per 1,000 persons aged 20-29.
Male life expectancy at birth in Ireland was 80.8 years in 2019, while female life expectancy was 3.9 years higher at 84.7 years. Sweden had the highest life expectancy for males at 81.5 years, while Spain had the highest for females at 86.7 years.
Public health spending per capita, in constant 2019 prices, increased from €3,048 to €3,604 between 2009 and 2019 in Ireland, an increase of 18.2%.
Population: Ireland accounted for 1.1% of the total EU27 population in 2021 and had the fourth highest percentage increase in population between 2011 and 2021. Ireland had a fertility rate of 1.7 in 2019. This tied with Sweden, Czech Republic, Denmark and Estonia as the third highest rate in the EU27, after France (at 1.9) and Romania (1.8%). The average age of first time mothers in Ireland in 2019 was 30.7 years old, above the EU27 average of 29.4 years.
The divorce rate in Ireland was 0.7 divorces per 1,000 population in 2018, the lowest rate in the EU27 (along with Malta). 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 31.0%, 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 22.1%. These combined to give Ireland a dependency ratio of 53.1%, just 2.4 percentage points less than the EU27 average of 55.5%. (Tables 1.2, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7 and 1.8)
Health: Current public expenditure on health care in Ireland averaged €3,604 per person in 2019 (at constant 2019 prices), an increase of 18.2% on 2009. Life expectancy at birth in Ireland in 2019, as calculated by Eurostat, was 84.7 years for females, 0.7 years greater than the EU27 average. The male life expectancy at birth in Ireland was 80.8 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 70.5 years in 2019, the third highest rate in the EU27 and 5.4 years above the EU27 average. Male healthy life years at birth in Ireland in 2019 was 68.6 years, the fourth highest rate in the EU27 and 4.4 years higher than the EU27 average.
Irish males can expect to spend 15.1% of their life expectancy in poor health, the fifth lowest rate in the EU27. Males in Finland, Latvia, Denmark, Croatia, Austria, and Estonia can anticipate spending over a quarter of their life expectancy in poor health. Females in Ireland can expect to spend 16.8% of their life expectancy in poor health, the fourth lowest rate in the EU27. In Finland, females are predicted to spend over a third of their life in poor health (35.4%), and the highest rate in the EU27. (Tables 5.1, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 5.6 and 5.7)
Environment: There were 454 passenger cars per 1,000 inhabitants in Ireland in 2019, the seventh lowest rate in the EU27. The highest number of cars per 1,000 inhabitants was in Luxembourg at 681, while the lowest was in Romania at 357.
The quantity of municipal waste generated per person in Ireland dropped by 3.7% over the 2009 to 2019 period, from 651.4kg to 627.0kg. In all, 15.3% of municipal waste was landfilled in 2019, below the EU27 average of 24.2%. The landfill percentage varies widely in EU27 states, from less than 1.0% in Denmark, Finland, Germany, and Sweden (where recycling and incineration rates are high), to over 75.0% in Malta, Greece and Romania. The quantity of waste landfilled in Ireland dropped by 72.6% between 2009 and 2019 from 1.72 to 0.47 million tonnes.
In 2020, diesel vehicles were the most common type of vehicle licensed for the first time at 54.9% (or 64,008 vehicles). This was followed by petrol vehicles (34,586 or 29.7%), petrol/electric hybrids (10,433 or 9.0%), electric only vehicles (4,443 or 3.8%), and plug-in electric hybrids (2,496 or 2.1%).
(Tables 3.7, 3.8, 3.9 and 3.11)
Education: Real expenditure per student increased over the period 2008-2018 by 5.2% at primary level. However, there was a decrease of 5.8% at secondary level and 35.0% at third level over the same time period. In 2020, more than half (56.3%) of the population aged 25-34 had completed third level education, the third highest rate across the EU27 (along with Lithuania).
One in seven (14.8%) of those aged 18-24 in Ireland in 2020 was neither in employment nor in education and training (the NEET rate). The EU27 average NEET rate was 14.4% and varied from a low of 5.9% in the Netherlands to 24.8% in Italy. Ireland had the highest proportion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates in the EU27 in 2019. The proportion of graduates in these disciplines was 36.9 per 1,000 of the population aged 20-29 in Ireland, while the EU27 average was 20.8. (Tables 4.1, 4.4, 4.6 and 4.7)
Prices: Ireland had the second highest price levels in the EU27 in 2020, with prices 40.0% above the EU27 average. Only Denmark was more expensive with price levels at 40.1% above the EU27 average. (Table 2.13)
Employment and unemployment: The employment rate in Ireland fell from 61.3% in 2010 to 59.8% in 2012 before rising to 69.0% in 2019. The employment rate then fell to 63.2% in 2020, below the EU27 average of 67.6%. The highest employment rate in 2020 in the EU27 was in the Netherlands at 77.8% while the lowest rate was in Greece at 56.3%.
The unemployment rate in Ireland rose from 14.6% in 2010 to 15.9% in 2012 before decreasing to 5.4% in 2020. Ireland had the tenth lowest unemployment rate in the EU27, with the lowest rate in the Czech Republic at 2.6% and the highest in Greece at 16.3%. (Tables 2.14 and 2.16)
Housing: The number of new dwellings in Ireland increased by 318.0% between 2012 and 2020, from 4,911 to 20,526. In the same time period, the number of apartments increased by 778.9% (446 to 3,920), scheme houses rose by 1110.0% (964 to 11,664), and single houses increased by 41.2% (3,501 to 4,942). Nationally, residential property prices decreased 22.8% between 2011 and 2013, before increasing 83.2% from 2013 to 2021. (Tables 2.19 and 2.20)
Social cohesion: The at risk of poverty rate in Ireland was 13.2% in 2020, which was below the EU27 rate of 17.2%. In 2020, 5.0% of the population in Ireland was in consistent poverty. Ireland’s net official development assistance was 0.3% of GNI in 2020, the tenth 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 2020 was 5.9%, the highest in the EU27 and above the EU27 average of -5.9%. All other countries in the EU27 experienced negative growth. Spain had the lowest GDP growth rate at -10.8%. In 2020, Ireland had the second highest GDP per capita in the EU27 at 109% above the EU27 average.
The public balance deficit in 2020 was 4.9% of GDP, less than the EU27 average of -6.9% and a significant improvement on 2010 when it was -32.1%. Government debt dropped in 2020 to 58.4% of GDP (below the EU27 average of 90.1%), having been 120.0 in 2013. Ireland’s gross fixed capital formation was 39.7% of GDP in 2020, above the EU27 average of 21.9%.
The productivity of the Irish workforce, excluding the Foreign Sector and as measured by GDP per hour worked, was 10.9% higher than the EU27 average. (Tables 2.3, 2.4, 2.6, 2.8, and 2.15)
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