Prices in Republic 35% above EU average, CSO figures show

Data reveals basic cost of products and services is second highest in the bloc

The cost of basic products and services in the Republic was 35.4 per cent higher than the EU average in 2019, and the second highest after Denmark, a new report by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) shows.

The CSO’s Measuring Ireland’s Progress 2019 study suggests the primary reason for the higher cost of living here is housing.

The agency noted that the cost of housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels rose by 3.4 per cent in 2019, mainly due to higher rents and mortgage interest repayments .

And while there were also increases in the cost of restaurants and hotels, and transport that year, housing was likely to have had the bigger absolute impact on individuals.

The CSO’s report shows that price levels here were 25.9 per cent above the EU average back in 2009. This dipped to 21.1 per cent above the EU average in 2011 as the economy entered into a recessionary period, before increasing again in recent years (to 35.4 per cent in 2019).

The report also reveals the Republic had the eleventh highest Gross National Income (GNI) in the EU in 2019 at €275.5 billion. Ireland also had the tenth highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of €356.1 billion.

However, those indices are distorted by multinational transactions and tend to exaggerate the domestic’s economy’s performance.

On Purchasing Power Standards, which breaks down GDP on a per capita basis, the State is ranked second after Luxembourg.

But under the CSO’s bespoke measure of GNI, which weeds out multinational transactions, including those related to intellectual property (IP), Ireland falls to eighth position in the rankings.

In 2019, the State recorded an unemployment rate of 5.4 per cent, which was below the EU27 average of 6.8 per cent, and the 12th lowest jobless rate in the bloc.

It has subsequently risen to 20 per cent as a result of Covid-related restrictions, which have shut down large parts of the economy.

STEM graduates

The CSO’s figures show Ireland had the highest rate of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates in the EU in 2018.

The proportion of graduates in these disciplines was 35.2 per 1,000 people aged 20-29, while the EU average was 19.6.

The figures also showed the State had one of the most educated workforces in the EU.

More than half (53.1 per cent) of those aged 25-34 in the State had a third level qualification in 2019, above the EU27 average of 38.5 per cent, and the fourth highest rate in the EU27.

Reflecting a gradually ageing population, the CSO’s report showed the proportion of the population aged 65 years or over has increased over the last 10 years from 11.3 per cent in 2010 to 14.5 per cent in 2020.

Similarly, the proportion of the population aged 45-64 years also increased, from 22.4 per cent in 2010 to 24.6 per cent in 2020.

Conversely, the proportion of the population aged 15-24 years decreased from 13.5 per cent in 2010 to 12.7 per cent in 2020.

In 2018, 37.9 per cent of births in the State were outside of marriage. Ireland and Malta both had the lowest divorce rate in the EU27 in 2017, at 0.7 divorces per 1,000 persons, while the average divorce rate in the EU27 was 1.9 divorces per 1,000 persons in 2017.