Country Idealist Profiles

Ireland – Current Social and Economic Situation

Posted in Ireland, Ireland - Basics by hynesbrid on August 5, 2008
Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy with growth averaging 6% in 1995-2007. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry and services. Although the exports sector, dominated by foreign multinationals, remains a key component of Ireland’s economy, construction has most recently fueled economic growth along with strong consumer spending and business investment. Property prices have risen more rapidly in Ireland in the decade up to 2006 than in any other developed world economy. Per capita GDP is 40% above that of the four big European economies and the second highest in the EU behind Luxembourg, and in 2007 surpassed that of the United States. 
Since 1997, the rate of economic growth in Ireland has averaged 7¼ per cent per annum. This buoyant rate of expansion has propelled average per capita income in Ireland, not just up to convergence levels, but has actually surpassed those enjoyed in most other developed economies. Ireland has gone from a society that had to send its people abroad for work, to a society that now welcomes substantial inflows of people from other European Union member states and further afield. The labour force now stands at over 2 million people. The total number at work has risen by some 700,000 and unemployment has fallen from some 10 per cent in 1997 to about 4½ per cent in 2007. More recently however, a slowdown in the property market, more intense global competition, and increased costs, however, have compelled government economists to lower Ireland’s growth forecast slightly for 2008.   


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