Republic fifth most expensive state in EU

Thu, Oct 11, 2012, 01:00

THE REPUBLIC is the fifth most expensive country in the European Union with people paying 17 per cent more than the EU average for goods and services, a Central Statistics Office report has found.

The Republic fared well in educational attainment compared to its EU partners but badly in terms of economic indicators, according to the CSO report, Measuring Ireland’s Progress 2011.

Only Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg had higher consumer prices than this State last year. However, prices here were rising much more slowly than every other EU state as the Republic had the lowest rate of inflation in the bloc during 2011.

As a result of low inflation its relative expense has improved since the start of the recession (2008), when it had the second highest prices in the bloc (30 per cent above average).

This State also had the fifth highest unemployment rate in the EU last year. The Republic had the highest percentage of adults living in jobless households, at 15.8 per cent, compared with the EU average of 11.1 per cent.

The Republic was seventh highest in the percentage of people out of work for more than a year. This level of long-term unemployed people was mainly due to the high number of out-of-work men – presumably, many former construction workers.

The productivity of the Irish workforce (GDP per person employed) was above the EU average, the report found. The Republic’s GDP per capita was the fourth highest in the EU at 27 per cent above average.

Unsurprisingly, the States public finances fared badly in comparison with other EU nations.

The Republic had the worst public balance deficit – the difference between Government borrowing and lending – in the EU last year. It was by far the highest in the bloc at 13.1 per cent, which was far worse than other troubled EU states: Greece (9.1 per cent) and Spain (8.5 per cent); and well above the EU average of 4.1 per cent.

However, the Republic fared well in terms of educational achievements, at third highest in third-level completion in the EU (46 per cent of the population aged 25-34 has finished third level).

It also had a higher than average number of people who at least achieved lower second-level education (13.5 per cent compared with EU average of 10.6 per cent).

The Republic’s population was the fastest growing in the bloc over the past 10 years, with the highest percentage increase at 16.91 per cent, far above the EU average of 3.86 per cent.

Eight states had a decline in population over the past decade.

The Republic had the highest proportion of young people (aged 0-14) in the EU last year but the second lowest proportion of older people (over 65) in the bloc during 2011.