Ireland fifth most expensive country in EU, CSO report finds

Only Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg dearer in 2013

A graphic taken from the Measuring Ireland’s Progress 2013 report by the CSO.

A graphic taken from the Measuring Ireland’s Progress 2013 report by the CSO.


Ireland remains one of the most expensive countries of Europe, ranking as the fifth most expensive state in the EU in 2013.

Only Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg are more expensive according to Measuring Ireland’s Progress 2013, a report released by the Central Statistics Office this morning.

This was despite Ireland having the lowest increase in inflation in the EU between 2009 and 2013.

The report, which examines comparative data from across the European Union across 58 indicators; covering population, social cohesion, crime, finance, employment and housing found that prices in Ireland were 20 per cent above the EU average in 2013.

However, it notes this actually represents an improvement on the 2009 figures when price levels in Ireland were the second highest in the EU at 26 per cent above average.

Ireland had one of the highest public balance deficits in the EU at 5.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), the fifth largest in Europe, but a fraction of the 32.4 per cent deficit recorded in 2010.

The country ranked among the four worst countries for government debt which stood at 123.3 per cent of GDP in 2013, the fourth highest debt to GDP ratio in the EU. Ireland’s government debt was 62.2 per cent in 2009.

Ireland recorded the seventh-highest unemployment rate in the EU in 2013 at 13.9 per cent, above the EU average of 10.8 per cent.

In Austria, where the lowest unemployment rate was recorded, the comparative figure was 4.9 per cent while Greece fared worst in the EU at 27.5 per cent.

The employment rate in Ireland stood at 60.2 per cent in 2013, the tenth lowest in the EU and below the EU average of 64.1 per cent.

The highest employment rate in the EU was in Sweden at 74.4 per cent while the lowest was recorded in Greece at 48.8 per cent.

The level of people in consistent poverty increased between 2012 and 2013 rising from 7.7 per cent to 8.2 per cent of the population.

However, children were more likely than the general population to find themselves in consistent poverty with one in eight children, or 11.7 per cent of under-18s, in consistent poverty in Ireland in 2013 compared to 9.9 per cent a year earlier.

Irish primary school class sizes stood at 24.4 per cent on average in 2013, the second highest in the EU (these figures related to 2012), with only the UK faring worse.

Expenditure per student in Ireland increased over the period between 2004 and 2013 by 10 per cent at primary level and by 6 per cent at secondary level.

However there was a decrease of a fifth at third level in the same time period.

Public expenditure on health care in Ireland averaged at €2,973 per person in 2013, consistent with the 2012 figures, and a 7 per cent increase when compared to 2004.

Life expectancy at birth in Ireland is 83.2 years for women and 78.7 years, both of which are above the EU average.

A 65-year-old man in Ireland can now expect to live a further 16.6 years, while a woman of the same age can expect to live a further 19.8 years.

In 2012 Ireland had the highest fertility rate in the EU at 2.01, far higher than the EU average of 1.58.

In 2013, Ireland had the highest proportion of young people (those aged 14 and under) in the EU, and the second lowest proportion of old people (those aged 65 and over).

The divorce rate in Ireland was 0.6 divorces per 1,000 population in 2012, the lowest rate in the EU.