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Press Statement - Statistics show Ireland’s progress

A new report Measuring Ireland’s Progress, published by the CSO today,shows the progress made in Ireland in a number of important economic, social and environmental areas. The report gives information for 108 key indicators of national progress. As well as showing developments over time, the report also benchmarks the situation in Ireland against the other EU Member States and the ten new countries acceding to the EU in May 2004.

The indicators presented in the report provide a mixed picture of Ireland’s performance and current well-being relative to other EU countries. They show Ireland’s high economic performance and low unemployment rates in recent years. However, Ireland has the lowest life expectancy rates for men and women in the EU and our inflation rate is one of the highest.

Areas where Ireland is performing well include

The employment rate for women in Ireland rose by 40% during 1994-2003 while the rate for men increased by 15% during the same period.

The public balance for Ireland showed a deficit of 0.2% of GDP in 2002. This compared favourably with a Eurozone deficit of 2.2% and was well within the EMU Stability and Growth deficit limit of 3% of GDP.

Over one-third of persons aged 25-34 had 3rd level education in 2002. This was the fifth highest rate in the EU.

The proportion of owner-occupied households in Ireland increased from 60% in 1961 to 80% in 2002.

The GDP per capita figure for Ireland was the second highest in the EU in 2002 while GNI per capita exceeded the EU average for the first time in 2002. Ireland was the second most successful EU country at attracting foreign investment in 2002 with direct investment flows accounting for 20% of GDP.

Non-capital public expenditure on education in Ireland per student increased by over 27% during 1998-2002 after allowance was made for inflation. The comparative increase in non-capital public health expenditure over the same period was 55% per person.

Smoke concentrations in Dublin, Limerick and Cork were at record low levels during 1998-2000 arising from the restrictions on the sale of non-smokeless coals introduced into these cities during the 1990s. However smoke levels rose in all three cities in 2000-2001.

Areas where further progress is possible include

Ireland’s international trade competitiveness has deteriorated since 2000 mainly due to higher price levels. Ireland had the second highest rate of inflation among EU countries over the period 1996-2002.

Ireland is significantly behind the EU leaders, Sweden and Finland, in innovation and technology indicators such as investment in research and technology and new patent applications.

The unemployment rate among early school leavers aged 18-24 was almost 17% in 2002. Ireland had the lowest life expectancy for both males (73 years) and females (78.5 years) among EU countries in 2001. This contrasted with having the highest average retirement age from the labour force
of 63.1 years in 2001.

Ireland had the fourth lowest turnout among EU countries in national parliamentary elections.

The reduction achieved in the risk of poverty rate through pensions and social transfer payments was one of the lowest among EU countries in 2000. The number of lone parent families in Ireland with children aged under 20 increased by 88% during 1994-2003. Ireland exceeded the Kyoto 2008-2012 target for greenhouse gas emissions by 16% in 2001.Ireland had the third highest proportion of municipal waste landfill in 2000 in the EU.

Editor’s note

Both publications, Measuring Ireland’s Progress Volume 1, 2003 – Indicators Report and Measuring Ireland’s Progress Volume 2, 2003 – Background Report are available on the CSO web site (

For copies of the publications contact:

Central Statistics Office, Information Section, Skehard Road, Cork

or The Government Publications Sale Office, Sun Alliance House, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. Price: €10 each

For further information contact:

Gerry Brady at 01 498 4006 or Gillian Roche at 01 498 4007.

19 December 2003