The qualifications of public sector workers are on average much higher than those in private sector

Repricing Ireland: Public service pay rises should track increases in the private sector

Protesters in Madrid  demand the EU change its financial policies to fight unemployment and the financial crisis in 2013, when youth unemployment peaked at 55 per cent. Photograph: Andres Kudacki/AP

While Madrid’s banks were sound, its economy was hampered by high unemployment

If the economy is to provide 30,000  houses a year housing investment will need to double from its current level. Assuming that Government policy is reasonably successful in achieving this target by 2019, this will add one or two percentage points to the growth rate of the economy over the next two years

Building the homes we need in a fast-growing economy can run the risk of overheating

Ireland’s regional income disparity is much lower than in larger countries such as Germany, the UK and Italy. Photograph: Getty Images

Regional solidarity backed by economic funding is key to national cohesiveness

In Ireland, more than half of everyone born in the 1990s have gone on to college – among the highest progression rates in Europe. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Up to half of growth in the 20 years to 2010 came from higher educational attainment

Frothy debate: A study published   In 2014  suggested trade with the UK would be adversely hit by independence, eventually cutting Scottish GDP by 5.5 per cent – a proportion that might well be a good deal larger once Brexit is taken into account. Photograph:  Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

Crucial commercial relationship with UK ‘rump’ would be risked by messy divorce

In the late 1700s, Drogheda was the largest linen manufacturing town on the island. In 1971 over half the employment there was in industry, mainly textiles and clothing. Now there has been a massive growth in the service sector

Hinterlands of Dublin and other cities can benefit economically from that proximity

Investment by Irish-owned companies in R&D  is still significant. Photograph: iStock

R&D attracts many funding models, but value for money can be difficult to measure

The Liberal party of the  prime minister, Mark Rutte plans to cut welfare payments, according to CPB analysis. Photograph: Epa/Julien Warnand

Independent economic analysis of policy platforms is a useful public service

The Irish punt: the sterling-euro/punt exchange rate has fluctuated within quite wide bands since the link with sterling was broken in 1979

Effects of weaker sterling if sustained will gradually be eroded by higher inflation in UK

The Central Bank last month showed some companies have only a small effect on GNP, but they greatly complicate the interpretation of trade and investment data. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

The revision of the international standard for national accounts is imperfect

Dublin Castle during Culture Night in 2016: in choosing where to settle down, individuals will consider the range of job opportunities and the potential lifestyle. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Skilled professionals can only to be lured to locations which offer careers with lifestyles

“There has been a repeated cycle where housebuilding collapses because of an economic crisis and, when the economy begins to grow again, a much longer period before housebuilding recovers.” File photograph: Getty Images

Likely to be 2019 or 2020 before output of houses approaches a satisfactory level

William Trevor  in the Shelbourne Hotel. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
Valley Bachelors

A poem by John FitzGerald for William Trevor

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben: as the sun sets on Britain’s membership of the EU, Ireland counts the cost of a new customs deal. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

Customs decision will have an economic cost and create border between North and South

 British prime minister Theresa May: the  Irish experience  shows  the effects of a radical change in trade regime take many years to play out.  Photograph: Stephane De Sakutin/Getty Images

Policies of protectionism helped to ensure Ireland was a backwater for 50 years

Local campaigners have argued that the interconnector should be put underground. An independent study carried out in 2009 showed that while the overground option would, at that time, cost under €100 million, undergrounding would cost an additional €500 million – an additional €200 per Irish household.  Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

New interconnector would cut prices and greenhouse gases

If the metric of commercial value were appropriate to measuring the welfare effects of giving Christmas presents, Santa Claus might be perplexed by the results. Photograph: Ronald Bloom/ISPC

Conversation can be more important than the commercial value of any presents

It’s possible that the  negative effects from Brexit could be offset by significant redirection of FDI to Ireland. Photograph: EPA

We need to plan for range of post-Brexit possibilities, from unfavourable to positive

The provision of sewerage services is a vital element of Irish Water’s work and major advances in public health  over the last 150 years are largely down to improved sanitation

Despite much to rue about recent water policy, one clear success is Irish Water

George Bush ignored repeated warnings from economists over  fiscal profligacy. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Republican fiscal profligacy has fuelled damaging boom and bust cycles in US

Air-pollution problems afflict large Vietnamese cities such as Hanoi, which frequently has a  blanket of smog.

Hanoi conference examines links between growth and greenhouse-gas emissions

Protesters  at a climate change protest: “Progress  in tackling transport emissions has been  limited.” File photograph: Cyril Byrne

National Mitigation Plan must tackle dependence on fossil fuels as matter of urgency

The available research shows the bulk of the decline in unskilled jobs is due to technical change within the US rather than to free trade.

Increased automation in manufacturing has eliminated many ‘traditional’ jobs

  Activists protest  near the   ESB peat burning power station   in Shannonbridge, Co Offaly.  Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Road to emission reduction starts with peat burning ban and investment support

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking at the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit in Dublin on Wednesday. Photograph: Eric Luke

Change in trade arrangements will cause a fracture in retail sector supply chain

Spending power: junior public servants still have significantly higher pay rates than their private sector equivalents. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

State must be wary of again widening pay gap between public and private-sector workers

“We are unlikely to see the pound rising in future to the extent that it would reverse shopping flows, given the problems Brexit will bring for the UK economy.” Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Retailers in the Republic face weakness of sterling and likely disruption of supply chain

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

First-time buyers’ tax refund will result in increased house prices at cost of €50 million

Minister for Finance  Michael Noonan. “In recent years, budget submissions have grown into a cottage industry.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Intensive lobbying means short-term moves eclipse daring options to reallocate funding

Research finds that there has been an increasing tendency for people to choose life partners with similar levels of education. Photograph: iStock

Tendency to marry others with similar incomes contributes to rising inequality

Fears that Nama would help out the banks at the taxpayers’ expense proved groundless. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The Project Eagle loss isn’t real, but rather the difference between two hypotheticals

The effect of the recession years has been to encourage a large number of young people to persist in their education. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Fall in labour force participation rates down to people staying longer in third-level

“Lobby groups typically mobilise around getting a particular proposal implemented . . . So the focus tends to be on looking for a new cardiac catheterisation unit for Waterford, or for an increase in rent supplement.”

Rising expectations in the recovering economy have made the choices more difficult

The EU tax ruling saga highlights the possibility that further changes, especially in US tax law, could see Apple move on from Ireland at a later date. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Any revision to national accounts could lead to €1.3bn one-off EU budget contribution

Unfettered access to the European market was particularly beneficial for Irish farmers. Photograph: David Moir/Reuters

Trump and Brexit vote represent backlashes against against EU free-trade model

The European Central Bank headquarters in  Frankfurt. Photograph: Bernd Kammerer/AP Photo

Problems with Irish GDP measurement could arise in US and other major economies

British prime minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Enda Kenny hold a news conference in 10 Downing Street in July. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/Reuters

History tells us that bilateral trade agreements with the UK do not suit Ireland

Taxation policy: tourism is booming and hoteliers are making good profits. A rethink of the sector’s VAT reduction should be considered.

State should save corporation tax windfall and aim to run a budget surplus in 2017

Stormont in Belfast. The North’s economy is massively dependent on transfers from London amounting to around 30% of its income. Photograph: Paul Faith

London must be encouraged to live up to its economic commitments to the North

While the latest CSO data shows a massive surplus for 2015 of over 10 per cent of GDP, the reality is that we may have actually spent more abroad than we really earned. Photograph: Reuters

Even on basis of ‘real’ growth, budget should give little away

Emissions build-up: In 1992, the EU proposed a tax on emissions which would have risen over time. If it had been introduced as planned, emissions would be much lower than they are now. Photograph: John Giles/PA Wire

Emissions trading scheme ran aground when recession made permits worthless

If the recovery were to continue on course through next year and into 2018 the economy would then reach capacity. Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Our rapidly growing economy may require higher taxes in the next few years

Economic literature analyses the effect of tournaments on national wellbeing through the feel-good factor. But another side effect is the impact on electricity consumption, and thus, indirectly, on greenhouse gas emissions

Analysis indicates effect on morale, but an impact also registers on electricity usage

An ESRI study on the key risk factors in being long-term unemployed has facilitated emergence of a targeted approach and earlier intervention. File photograph: Aidan Crawley

Improved Irish setup now trying to support people to move from welfare into work

“Over the course of the recession, the labour-force participation of women over 35 continued to rise, and to rise strongly for the over-55s. Labour-force participation fell, however, for younger women, including those with high levels of education.” Photograph: iStock/Getty

Earnings may be affected if economic penalty for taking time out of work persists

Insights from Brendan Walsh’s many papers helped underpin the substantial progress in reducing unemployment in the 1990s

Brendan Walsh was a sharp analyst of Irish economics and society

Switching the responibility for job activation from Fás to the Department of Social Protection was a rare example of a reorganisation that worked. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The problems facing the Government will not be solved by reorganising departments

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan: it is suggested by some commentators  that the recent massive fiscal adjustment  was a choice made by unwise or unkind politicians, this is very far from the reality. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

With an uncertain future, you must examine both what might go right as well as wrong

Removal of a vehicle  checkpoint at the Border outside Strabane in Donegal:  UK exit would be not just an economic shock, but also a backward step in the developing relationship between the North and the Republic. Photograph: Trevor McBride

Anything that may destabilise the Belfast Agreement would be a major concern

While the market share of Irish-owned retail firms has declined, the new entrants, such as H&M, Zara and Ikea, have brought variety and competition to the Irish retail sector, driving down prices

Britain’s exit from EU would cause problems as competitiveness comes under pressure

David Cameron is leading the line for the pro-EU side, but the vote is looking too close to call. Photograph: Getty Images

Loss of 10,000 financial sector jobs in London may mean firms move in search of EU ‘asylum’

Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the launch of census 2016 las month. “In recent decades, a vital area of information provided by the census has been details on the characteristics of returning emigrants and immigrants.” Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography

‘From an early stage in my career I have had a certain fascination for the census’

The elevated standard of living in Northern Ireland is funded by a very large transfer from government in London. In 2013-14 it was more than a quarter of the  North’s GDP

United Ireland not possible if South has to pick up bill for subsidised Northern economy

 Conor O’Kelly, CEO of the National Treasury Management Agency: Ireland’s success in weathering the storm  owes a significant amount to the successful management of the crisis by the NTMA. Photograph: Sara Freund / The Irish Times

Borrowing strategy of agency before and after bailout gave Ireland a valuable cushion

Roland Fryer’s research helps us to better understand the problems faced by disadvantaged children, especially African-American children in the US. Photograph: Getty

Award-winning economist first studied racial differences in educational performance

 Indications of rapid growth: Managing the economy and avoiding another boom-bust cycle will take skill. Having a government would help. Photograph: Steve Hix/Somos Images/Corbis

With real growth running at 5% a major expansion in investment is needed soon

A shared shared ownership housing development in north London: the London Housing Commission called for greater control to be given to the mayor  and  boroughs in exchange for a commitment to increase the number of homes being built. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Addressing housing in Ireland can be helped by looking at good and bad policies in the UK

The experience of the last decade has taught us that in economic policy it is better to play safe rather than to be sorry

After four years of buoyant growth it is important to consider whether the economy is expanding beyond its potential

As the number of pensioners continues to rise – the Central Statistics Office projects a rise of 17-18 per cent in the next five years – the State pension bill will go up

Of four main parties in #ge16, Labour is only one that gets close to indexation

In earlier elections, in particular in the 1970s and the 1980s, there was either no agreement or limited agreement across the parties on the likely budget available for policy changes

Unlike in past elections, this time there is broad acceptance of underlying fiscal constraints

Carbon taxes – which hit fossil fuels such as turf, coal, oil and gas – can help reduce consumption of these items and lower greenhouse gas emissions, but they leave decisions on labour supply relatively unaffected. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire

Taxes on property or energy may have less impact on labour market behaviour

With the advent of the financial crisis in 2008, the Single Market in banking services effectively broke up.  Photograph: REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Banking union holds out the prospect of recreating an integrated EU banking market

A significant social change over the past 40 years has been the gradual disconnection between the decision to get married and the decision to have children. Photograph: Thinkstock

Ireland’s marriage and baby demographics have slowly grown closer to those in other European countries

The full range of election manifesto promises on tax have yet to be unveiled, but well-placed leaks suggest that parties are likely to compete on who will offer the most generous package of tax reductions

‘Behavioural economics teaches us that people are not especially grateful for today’s income increase, but are mad as hell if, in (...)

In 1992, wind power was a very expensive technology but this did not stop some advocates suggesting an immediate large-scale adoption in Ireland. File photograph: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Cost of wind technology has fallen sharply and same is happening with solar power but charging structure reform needed to ensure p(...)

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan’s budget documents present some limited alternative scenarios on what might happen if world growth were lower than assumed or if euro area interest rates were higher than expected. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Too often policies are formed on the assumption that tomorrow will be very like today, and that surprises, pleasant or unpleasant,(...)

The takeover of Aer Lingus by British Airways looks set to add to Dublin Airport’s business with flights to new destinations in the summer. Photograph: Reuters

Another runway may be needed if traffic through the airport continues to grow

Devolved government has brought peace but it has not yet brought economic stability

Figure One

Recovery such that full employment is now achievable within three years

Coal-fired generators in Hebei, China. The successful development of clean energy is likely to rely heavily on investment by the private sector. Photograph: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Tackling climate change requires incentivising new technology to produce ‘clean’ energy


We learned in 2008 how a revenue stream – property tax – could vanish overnight

Data show that the proportion of the population in the dependent age groups will continue to rise for the foreseeable future, creating upward pressure on pension spending, and thus on taxes, for at least the next 30 years. File photograph: Getty Images

Facilitating the over-65s to stay at work increases productivity and saves on pensions

Ireland is one of lowest spenders on public investment among developed economies

Cutting VAT would benefit land-owners – the losers would be the people of Ireland

Multinationals contribute to a favourable balance of payments position, accounting for a disproportionate share of our net exports

Using adjusted figures, MNEs contributed less than 10 per cent of GNP last year

A protest about the number of people on hospital trolleys: the focus of attention on the immediate trolley problem and the need for quick fixes have made it difficult to solve some of the underlying problems in health. Photograph: Frank Miller

Even independent public servants may find it difficult to resist strong lobbying

 “The limited privatisation mooted here of individual Dublin bus routes provoked industrial action and is proceeding at a slow pace.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

If competition is introduced in the right way, it can benefit companies and consumers

“A significant factor in the inadequate level of investment in recent years has been the legacy effect of debt”

Investment in Ireland is well below what would be expected in a developed economy

State policy on attracting financial sector entities needs to be more discriminating

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan before announcing this year’s budget at Government Buildings last October. The momentum in the Irish economy means that fairly rapid growth is likely to continue into 2016, a key factor in assessing what the budgetary strategy should be for next year. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

A policy of economic neutrality means keeping the average rate of tax broadly unchanged

Low interest rates are affecting retired people but benefitting indebted households with young families

Ireland is now one of the most expensive countries in the EU, up there with the UK and Sweden, and only exceeded by Denmark. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Ireland is one of the most expensive countries in the EU, only exceeded by Denmark.

 Olivier Blanchard, the recently retired chief economist of the IMF, believed it was an erroneous to assume that, under EMU, it would be easy to finance a current account deficit through foreign borrowing, given the absence of exchange rate risk

New data show that, instead of a significant surplus in 2014 (as suggested by the unrevised data), Ireland had a very small defi(...)

The 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull reminded us just how damaging such events can be. However, the most costly Icelandic eruption of recent times was financial in nature: proportionately, the country’s banking bust was even bigger than Ireland’s.

In contrast to Greece, growth is well under way in Ireland, Iceland, Latvia, Estonia, Portugal and Spain

Dublin, while much smaller than leading European cities, is still large enough to attract major export enterprises and to draw Irish emigrants home, as well as skilled workers with no Irish associations

There is no simple answer to what makes a city attractive to a modern workforce. The one thing that is certain is that making citi(...)

While a major and prolonged interruption to energy, especially electricity, may be highly unlikely, it is a key task of government and of the regulatory authorities to ensure this never happens

Government’s failure to build second North-South interconnector creates risks

Bright prospects? If Chinese workers continue to retire at 60, by 2030 the ratio of workers to retirees will drop precipitously from roughly 5:1 today to just 2:1.. Photograph:  EPA/HOW HWEE YOUNG

China has a short window of opportunity to build the infrastructure it needs

Prof John McHale, chairman, and Eddie Casey, economist, at the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council: it finds the Department of Finance’s latest medium-term scenario for the public finances “wholly unrealistic”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Department of Finance’s latest medium-term scenario for public finances is ‘unrealistic’

European Central Bank president Mario Draghi: the ECB fire brigade was late arriving to do “whatever it takes” in 2012 and, again, to take action to move the rate of inflation back towards its target of 2 per cent. Nonetheless, the ECB did take action. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

While ECB interest rate decisions have not always been wise, since EMU began inflation has averaged 1.9 per cent a year; the (...)

Italian airline Alitalia’s planes are registered in Ireland because they are leased from an Irish company

GNP remains the best, though still imperfect, measure of economic welfare

Many blame EMU for the great recession, but that ignores the fact that the crisis also seriously affected the UK and the United(...)

For graduates, employment opportunities have grown continuously over the last 20 years. Photograph: Chris Ison/PA Wire

After 30 years’ investment in education, more than half of young people go on to third level

NESC report shows how much hard thinking needs to be done on housing policy

Governments everywhere are likely to come under pressure to adopt the German approach to subsidising renewables – placing all the burden of the Public Service Obligation on households – to protect the competitiveness of their industries

German charging of citizens over industry for renewables not the way to go

Central Bank: potential capital gain of over €9 billion on its holdings of the bonds that replaced the promissory notes in the deal done in 2013

Bonus on notes deal won’t offset the cost of what Irish public has been through

Public sector pay protests: With the fiscal adjustment virtually completed and with a return to limited private sector wage increases, it is appropriate to consider increases in remuneration for public sector workers. Photograph:  Dave Meehan

Public pay policy should strive for broad parity with the private sector for equivalent skills, experience and effort

Male-dominated: Fiscal Advisory Council economists (from left) Prof John McHale, Thomas Conefrey, John Howlin, Andrew Hannon and Eddie Casey launch a recent fiscal assessment report in Dublin. Photograph; Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Irish economists have become more open to learning from other disciplines

The problem with the Fair Deal scheme is that it is underfunded and a waiting list has built up

Anti-water charges protests: the latest form of lump-sum charge, the water charges, is the main focus of organised opposition to taxes today. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Major reform of tax system would require a strong government

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