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National Accounts

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2020, up 5.9%

This chapter contains information on the performance of the overall economy. The details are drawn from the National Income and Expenditure 2020 publication (NIE 2020) and the Government Finance Statistics - July 2021 results. The results are compiled in accordance with the latest EU standard framework, ESA 2010.

Estimates are provided at current and at constant prices. The impact of inflation is eliminated from the tables at constant prices and they indicate the real or volume changes in the various aggregates over time. At present, the constant price tables are chain linked annually and referenced to year 2019.

The table General Government Transactions provides a summary of the revenue and expenditure of the Government sector and the General Government balance (Surplus/Deficit) for each period. The General Government Surplus/Deficit is the standard European measure used to monitor compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact. This table also shows details of how this balance is financed.

The table General Government Net Worth, Gross and Net Debt presents the net worth of the Government sector at the end of each period, calculated as financial assets plus non-financial assets minus financial liabilities. It also shows General Government Gross Debt (also known as Maastricht Debt) which comprises the sum of certain categories of liabilities (namely currency and deposits, loans and debt securities) and a Net Debt measure which is obtained by deducting the values of the financial assets from the corresponding categories of financial liabilities in General Government Gross Debt.

For more information on some of the terms and items included in this section see the updated National Accounts Explained section on the CSO website. The improved National Accounts Explained section provides a clear and helpful guide to the terms used in National Accounts to help users to make the most of the macroeconomic outputs. It goes through terms, like GDP, GNI and modified GNI, for those who are unfamiliar with them or new to the accounts. It also delves into some of the technicalities of the accounts like FISIM and imputed rent.

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Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures the total output of the economy in a period i.e. the value of work done by employees, companies and self-employed persons. This work generates incomes but not all of the incomes earned in the economy remain the property of residents (and residents may earn some income abroad). The total income remaining with Irish residents is the Gross National Product (GNP) and it differs from GDP by the net amount of incomes sent to or received from abroad. In Ireland's case, for many years past, the amount belonging to persons abroad has exceeded the amount received from abroad, due mainly to the profits of foreign-owned companies, and our GNP is, therefore, less than our GDP.

Modified Gross National Income (GNI*) is an indicator designed specifically to measure the size of the Irish economy by excluding globalisation effects. Modified GNI subtracts depreciation on two kinds of assets in order to exclude globalisation effects: intellectual property (IP) and leased aircraft. The National Income & Expenditure publication for 2020 included the additional indicator, Net National Income (NNI) at constant prices. Within the National Accounts framework, the NNI indicator is an important measure of de-globalised economic activity.

In 2020, GDP increased by 5.9% at constant prices, while GNP rose by 3.4%. Modified Gross National Income (GNI*) at current market prices decreased from €216bn in 2019, to €208bn in 2020, or expressed as a share of GDP, from 60% to 56%. In constant prices, real GNI* has fallen by 3.5% in the year 2020. Between 2019 and 2020, NNI at constant prices fell by 4.3%.

Figure 17.1 below shows GDP, GNP and GNI* and NNI at constant prices from 2012 to 2020.

Table 17.1 shows the main aggregates in current prices and constant prices as well as per head of population and per person in employment.

Table 17.1 Main Aggregates, 2015-2020

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Gross Value Added (GVA) is equal to the sum of the values of the goods and services (or parts thereof) produced in the country without deducting an amount in respect of capital consumption (i.e. depreciation).

We produce GVA broken down by the different sectors allowing us to see the contribution of each sector to the economy as a whole.

Agriculture forestry and fishingIndustry (excl. construction)ConstructionDistribution, transport, hotels and restaurantsInformation and communicationFinancial and insurance activitiesReal estate activitiesProfessional, admin and support servicesPublic admin, education and healthArts, entertainment and other services

Figure 17.2 above shows the relative contributions of each sector. Just under 41% of total Gross Value Added at constant basic prices in 2020 was accounted for by Industry (excluding Construction).

Agriculture forestry and fishingIndustry (excl. construction)ConstructionDistribution, transport, hotels and restaurantsInformation and communicationFinancial and insurance activitiesReal estate activitiesProfessional, admin and support servicesPublic admin, education and healthArts, entertainment and other services

Figure 17.3 above shows the contributions of each sector to the overall growth from 2019 to 2020. Industry (excluding Construction) contributed 139.6% to the growth while Information & Communication contributed 37.6% to the growth. Declines in most other sectors had a negative impact on the growth rate, most notably in the Distribution, Transport, Hotels & Restaurants and the Professional, Admin & Support Services sectors which negatively impacted the growth rate by 38.5% and 19.5%, respectively. The resultant overall growth of GVA was 7.1% in 2020.

Table 17.2 below shows GVA at constant basic prices broken down by sector as well as GDP, GNP and GNI all at constant market prices (chain linked annually and referenced to year 2019). Multinational Enterprise (MNE) dominated sectors of the economy showed positive growth in 2020. Industry (excluding Construction) increased by 22.1% while Information & Communication grew by 13.8%. Apart from Public Administration, Education and Health, domestic sectors of the economy all posted declines in 2020. Distribution, Transport, Hotels and Restaurants declined by 19.3%, Construction by 10.2%, Professional, Admin & Support Services by 9.4% and Financial & Insurance activities by 8.6%.

Table 17.2 Gross Value Added at Constant Basic Prices by Sector of Origin and Gross National Income at Constant Market Prices (chain linked annually and referenced to year 2019)

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Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) is a measure of consumer spending on goods and services. Overall it declined by 10.4% in 2020.

Food and non-alcoholic beveragesAlcoholic beverages, tobacco and narcoticsClothing and footwearHousing, water, electricity, gas and other fuelsFurnishings, household equipment and routine maintenanceHealthTransportCommunicationsRecreation and cultureEducationRestaurants and hotelsMiscellaneous goods and services

Figure 17.4 above shows the contributions of each of the different types of expenditure to the total households expenditure on goods and services in Ireland. Of this total we can see that housing, water, electricity, gas & other fuels accounts for 28%. Transport and restaurants & hotels each account for 11% while food & non-alcoholic beverages accounts for 10%.

Table 17.3 shows a further breakdown of the Consumption of Personal Income from 2015 to 2020.

Table 17.3 Consumption of Personal Income (except Taxes on Personal Income and Wealth) at Constant Market Prices (chain linked annually and referenced to year 2019)

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X-axis labelGeneral government revenue (% GDP)General government expenditure (% GDP)General government surplus/deficit (% GDP)SGP limit = -3% GDP*

*Under Article 104(6) of the Treaty establishing the European Community, Member States of the European Union are required to limit General Government Deficit to less than 3% of GDP.

Figure 17.5 presents Government Revenue, Expenditure and surplus/deficit as a percentage of GDP from 1995 to 2020.

Table 17.4 shows the general government deficit was €18.8bn in 2020, because of the impact of COVID-19 on both general government revenue and expenditure. Targeted government supports and public health measures resulted in a significant increase in expenditure and, at the same time, revenue fell. General government revenue was €84.5bn in 2020 while expenditure was €103.3bn, giving a deficit of €18.8bn (5% of GDP) compared with a surplus of €1.1bn in 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a drop of 4.1% in government revenues and a rise of 18.6% in government expenditure from 2019 to 2020.

Table 17.4 General Government Transactions:revenue,expenditure, financing and deficit

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X-axis labelGross general government debt (% GDP)Gross general government debt (% GNI*)Stability & Growth Pact Debt Threshold

Figure 17.6 presents the General Government Gross Debt as a percentage of GDP and GNI* for years 2000 to 2020. The 2020 figure is equivalent to 58.4% of GDP or 104.7% of modified Gross National Income (GNI*). The decrease in the ratios from the 2015 levels are due to the increase in GDP and GNI* being substantially greater than the increase in GG Debt.

Table 17.5 below shows the gross debt of General Government at €217,912 million at the end of 2020 up from €201,679 million at the end of 2015. Most of the increase in GG gross debt occurred between 2019 and 2020 (+ €13.9 billion) as additional debt securities were issued to cover the costs of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. General Government Net Debt for 2020 amounted to €186,805 million or 50.1% of GDP, an increase of €14,024 million over the 2015 level. This net debt figure is obtained by deducting the values of the financial assets from the corresponding categories of financial liabilities in General Government Gross Debt.

Table 17.5 General Government Net Worth, Gross and Net Debt

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