Ireland is third most expensive country in EU to live in – again

Republic also has second highest fertility rate – and lowest divorce rate – CSO report finds

The Republic remains among the most fertile and the most expensive states in the European Union, according to figures published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

For the fifth year in a row, the Republic is the third most expensive country in the EU in which to live, the Measuring Ireland’s Progress 2015 report found.

It put prices here 22.5 per cent above the European average which is slightly higher than the 22.3 per cent price differential recorded last year.

Compared to 2008, when price levels in the Republic were 30 per cent above the average and the second highest in the EU, the picture looks somewhat brighter.


As it has been since 2011, Denmark was the most expensive country in the EU with prices there 36.8 higher than the EU average. A big shift saw the UK take the number two spot from Sweden in 2015 with prices across the Irish Sea climbing to 31.5 per cent more than the average, compared with a price differential of 21.5 per cent a year earlier while Sweden became slightly cheaper than the Republic.

Bulgaria was the cheapest place in the EU to live, with prices just 46.7 per cent of the EU average.

The report measures progress using indicators to provide an overall view of society, the economy, the environment, education and health.

The study also found that the Republic had the second highest fertility rate in the EU at 1.94, well above the average of 1.58. France was the only country where more offspring were produced with the number there put at 2.01.

Eastern EU member states, along with Mediterranean countries, tended to have the lowest fertility rates. The lowest fertility rate in 2014 was in Portugal at 1.23.

Births outside marriage

More than a third of all births were outside marriage in Ireland in 2014, which was the tenth lowest proportion in the EU. Bulgaria had the highest proportion of births outside marriage at 58.8 per cent while Greece had the lowest at 8.2 per cent. More than half of all births were outside marriage in Bulgaria, Estonia, Slovenia, France, Sweden and Denmark.

The Republic had the lowest divorce rate in the EU at 0.6 per 1,000 population. The numbers in both Malta and Italy were also under 1 per thousand. Denmark, by contrast, was the country where divorce appeared most likely with a rate of 3.4 per 1,000.

The Republic had the third highest proportion of the population aged 25-34 that had completed third-level education and the 11th lowest rate of employment in the EU, while the rate of unemployment was the 10th highest.

Women were paid 13.9 per cent an hour less than men in 2014 which gave Ireland the 10th lowest gender pay gap in the EU in 2015 with the average gender pay gap put at 16.3 per cent. The lowest gender pay gap in the EU was in Romania at 5.8 per cent while the highest was in Estonia at 26.9 per cent.

The Republic also had the third highest percentage of population in the EU at risk of poverty before pensions and social transfers, with the number put at 48.8 per cent. However the at-risk-of-poverty rate in Ireland after pensions and social transfers, at 15.6 per cent, was the 13th lowest rate in the EU.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast