By the end of 2017 the State Claims Agency estimated that its outstanding liability was €2.7 billion, about three-quarters of which related to claims against the health system. Photograph: iStock

John FitzGerald: Claims system adds cost to health service with adverse effects

Our participation rates in education were further boosted by choices young people made in the recession to stay on in school or college. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Recent CSO study shows that workers with degrees earn two-thirds more than others

A quarter of the class of 2010 were living abroad five years after graduation.

Permanent emigration of people with key skills could be serious loss to Irish economy

A lorry passes a sign on a main road outside Newry pointing towards an old customs and excise station near the Border. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

The only way to have a soft border after Brexit is for UK to stay in customs union

‘After 2008, the necessary adjustment was concentrated into four years. Recovery is faster when tough medicine is taken quickly.’ Photograph: Getty Images

John FitzGerald: State’s progress out of recession is much smoother than in 1980s

The UK announced a tech tax this week. While this type of tax has serious defects, the move reflects a public concern felt across the EU. Photograph: Getty Images

While the services of social media companies may overlap, they each have their distinctive niche which they dominate worldwide

‘If the UK is reduced to England, Wales and the North, the exceptional generosity of transfers to the North will stand out even more, increasing the likelihood that mainland politicians will choose to  cast the North adrift.’

John FitzGerald: Britain’s Brexit ‘civil war’ could lead to a disastrous end for the union

Dublin’s bus network must adapt to reflect the city’s growth. Photograph: Alan Betson

Most commuters in 2040 will depend on buses not the Luas, Dart or Metro

William Nordhaus  after winning the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences at Yale University on Monday. Photograph:  Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

Climate change specialist William Nordhaus says carbon price needed to achieve targets will rise as policies have been delayed

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has much to ponder as he puts the finishing touches to Budget 2019. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The hospitality sector is booming – it’s time to raise the 9% VAT rate

Graffiti depicts the stalled construction site of Anglo Irish Bank’s proposed headquarters in Dublin following the bank’s collapse.  Photographer: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

John FitzGerald: More banks might have survived had more been foreign-owned

The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. Photograph: Tom Stoddart/Getty Images

John FitzGerald: Germany’s interest rate rise set an indebted Irish economy back three years

The large-scale demolition of social housing reflected an approach to regeneration which saw replacing the physical fabric as being the answer to social problems affecting certain housing estates. Photograph: David Sleator

Government should address housing shortages and climate change at the same time

Official documents at the National Archives. A growing number of public bodies are scanning past publications to make them more widely available. Photograph: Eric Luke

Central repository for electronic documents would guard against risk of disappearance

Latest CSO figures show  the participation rate for women  has  risen by one percentage point. Photograph: Getty

John FitzGerald: CSO figures also show rise in participation of workers over the age of 65

Seán Cromien had a special concern to protect the institution of the Department of Finance. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

John FitzGerald: Seán Cromien’s work at Department of Finance led to a better Ireland

 The offices of the Central Bank at  North Wall Quay, Dublin.  It saying it is “difficult to analyse adequately fundamental questions such as the current cyclical position of the economy.”  Photograph: Alan Betson

Corporation tax receipts are skewed by big firms but influence on exports overstated

 Joseph Curtin and Laura Burke of the Climate Change Advisory Council:  Switching from fossil fuels to electricity to power heating and transport will be crucial to tackle climate change. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Tax on carbon must rise to make it dearer and reduce its damage to environment

The proposed water ownership referendum, like much else with Irish Water, is about solving a political problem, not addressing any fundamentals about our water supply. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

John FitzGerald: Shortages show why water utility should have followed ESB template

A scene outside a workhouse in Ireland during the Famine. One million people died and more than one million emigrated. Photograph: Getty Images

CSO provides estimates of future population depending on different assumptions about fertility, life expectancy and migration

At least half of the more than €8 billion the exchequer will receive this year in corporation tax is  attributable to the transfer of profits to Ireland by US multinationals. Photograph: Eric Luke

Risks from reputational damage and potential sudden outflow if US tax law changes

France’s president Emmanuel Macron. Photograph: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

A mechanism to co-ordinate national budgets across euro area would be more beneficial

Andreas Georgiou, president of the Hellenic Statistical Authority, remains under fire in Greece for restating the country’s indebtedness. Photograph: Roy Gutman/MCT via Getty Images

Statistics office director got suspended sentence for correcting Greece’s cooked books

Bord na Mona land at Mountlucas Wind farm in Co Offaly. Photograph: Dara MacDonaill/The Irish Times

Subsidy on peat generation exceeds wages of those it employs as our emissions soar

Ireland can look forward to a continuing rise in productivity for decades to come, provided the economy is managed well. Photograph: iStock

John FitzGerald: State’s ability to plan for the future is stymied by misleading CSO figures

'Of course, women whose cervical smear examinations wrongly failed to detect pre-cancerous signs should have been told.' Above, a demonstration at Leinster House. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

John FitzGerald: We must focus on learning from mistakes, not covering them up

French people, on average, spend three hours a day on meals compared to two hours in Sweden and Britain, and only one hour and 50 minutes in Ireland.

French eat and sleep more while women in Ireland do 3.5 hours more unpaid work a day

Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT): Galway city has the highest proportion of graduates in the State (61 per cent), beating Dublin and Cork. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Galway is a success story, with large labour catchment area and highly educated workforce

People queuing at the National Immigration Bureau visa office in Dublin. Immigration continues to play an important role in expanding the growth potential of the economy. Photograph: David Sleator

Influx of skills has improved competitiveness and allowed economy to grow more rapidly

Northern Ireland’s “special status”: Ministry for Commerce Jack Lynch, Northern Ireland PM Terence O’Neill, Minister for External Affairs Frank Aiken and Taoiseach Seán Lemass at Iveagh House. Photograph: Joe Clarke

John FitzGerald: Ireland and the UK have been here before, in our 1965 free-trade deal

The exceptional profitability of US companies in Ireland reflects US tax law and how it is implemented by the US administration. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

Prudent budgetary planning would regard tax take from US firms as temporary

Ireland’s urban structure is weak: Dublin’s population equates to that of the next 40 cities and towns combined

Only by understanding the preferences of people and business can public policy influence development

German chancellor Angela Merkel. Both the German and Irish economies run the risk of dangerous domestic bubbles in 2019. Photograph: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg

John FitzGerald: The regulations can mask dangerous economic policies

The housing valuations used for property tax purposes have been frozen at their 2013 level, even though average house prices have risen by almost two-thirds since then.

People well housed should pay a bit more to help local authorities fund social housing

As the EU market price for meat is roughly 30%  above the world market price, if the UK price fell to the world level it would be a huge hit for Irish exporters.  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Developing new markets now will shorten the period of pain for dairy farmers

An over-zealous interpretation of the General Data Protection Regulation may risk the CSO’s ability to make available anonymised microdata files for the purpose of research that is in the public interest.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Without access to proper data wrong policy levers might be applied

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar launching national planning framework Project Ireland 2040. Photograph: Alan Betson

A human capital strategy would bring bigger benefits than the National Development Plan

We also need to plan ahead for anticipated significant population growth. New schools are needed for more pupils; new homes are needed for our growing population; and new investment in transport  is needed to get people to work

Very little explains why specific projects were chosen and why certain investment areas were prioritised

'We are unsure what type of Brexit the UK wants and, depending on the final EU-UK relationship, we are unsure as to how the Irish economy will react.'

There is no doubt Brexit will be bad for Irish trade with UK but it’s uncertain as to just how bad it will be

Preparing tenders can take a lot of time, and involve a lot of expense for firms. It must be worthwhile for firms to compete given that many times they won’t be awarded the job. Photograph: Getty Images

Excess complexity of tender processes can undermine competition and savings

Beginning with the 1973 accessions of Ireland, the UK and Denmark, successive waves of EU enlargement have shown benefits for members. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

John FitzGerald: Despite post-crisis anxiety, the EU has driven prosperity for its members

“If we are to build enough houses, employment in construction will have to increase substantially in the next few years.” Photograph: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

John FitzGerald: Labour force data points to value of education in getting a job

The Survey on Income and Living Conditions does miss out those who suffer the most extreme form of poverty, which is homelessness. Photograph: Frank Miller

The CSO study is a crucial guide for policy-making and should better reflect modern reality

A garda searching a heavy goods vehicle at a checkpoint on the Cavan/Fermanagh Border. Photograph: Eric Luke

A free-trade deal that avoids UK-EU tariffs will still not facilitate a soft border

More efficient delivery than Amazon -  Santa Claus in his sleigh  in the Arctic Circle. Photograph: Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski

John FitzGerald: Have Eircodes made Santa’s job easier? And other bah humbug observations

“The economy was fully wound up from the late 1990s but, when mismanaged, it ran off the tracks in 2008.”

Failure to prevent overheating of economy would greatly raise risk of subsequent recession

British prime minister Theresa May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker address a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on Friday morning. Photograph: AP

John FitzGerald: Deal struck on Friday is ambiguous to cover fact that UK’s future course is undecided

 WT Cosgrave: he and his deputy Kevin O’Higgins expressed very serious concern about the treatment of Catholics in Northern Ireland

After a Churchill and Cosgrave meeting, a deal was done for Ireland to pay £5m instead of £156m

Pensioner prediction: the numbers aged over 65 are set to more than double by 2046, according to CSO projections. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Investing for old age is crucial or the pension bill will be a major burden for future generations

“Seventeen years on, because the minimum wage is set at an appropriate level, its introduction in Ireland has had few negative labour-market impacts.” Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Adequate welfare and tackling joblessness remain necessary tools for tackling poverty

A gallery assistant adjusts the minute hand of the Royal Observatory clock in Greenwich. In 1968, Daylight Saving Time was adopted on an experimental basis in Britain and Ireland. Photograph: Johnny Green/PA

Few savings to be made from not putting clocks back

While the EU early on adopted policy measures to reduce emissions in electricity generation, the results have shown these policies to date have been very ineffective. File photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Ireland should join coalition of countries driving decarbonisation of electricity systems

The Titanic Belfast visitor attraction. The latest available data for the North, for 2012, shows investment there reached only 10 per cent of GDP, well below Scotland’s ratio. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Northern administration has failed to direct resources into productive investment

Prior to Ireland’s EU entry, most cars were imported into the State like a dismantled jigsaw puzzle – they had been assembled in the UK, then taken to pieces and sent to Ireland to be reassembled. Photograph: Evening Standard/Getty Images

Transition has been much less painful than in many other developed economies

Minister for Finance  Paschal Donohoe at RTÉ Radio 1 for Today with Sean O’Rourke. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Action on carbon tax and tourism VAT rate would have resulted in a more effective budget

Central Bank. Photograph: Alan Betson

John FitzGerald: Government cannot rely for much longer on bank as a major source of income

Educated workforce: the number of graduates at work has increased by almost 7.5 per cent. Photograph: AFP/Getty

John FitzGerald: Employers will have to work hard to hold on to staff

Poultry being prepared and packed ready for export. Photograph: David Sleator

John Fitzgerald: In the long term there is likely to be a permanent loss for exporters to the UK

Traffic on the M50.

Properly calibrated charges on all roads could address several transport issues

Every increase in homebuilding of about 10,000 units adds about 1 per cent to the level of economic activity. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Housebuilding needs to be ramped up, which means steps must be taken to prevent overheating

The Four Courts in Dublin. While Ireland has an independent judiciary and a legal system that generally works well, there are areas where the law makes for unnecessary cost and uncertainty for business

Firms setting up in Ireland know under what laws they will operate

 A protest by anti-Brexit campaigners at the Border town of Carrickcarnon, Co Louth.   Photograph: Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne

John FitzGerald: locating customs barrier in Irish Sea takes no account of North’s economy

Mario Draghi: his announcement in 2012 that the European Central Bank was ready to do whatever it took to preserve the euro was a crucial change of stance. Photograph: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

John FitzGerald: As well as overhauling banking, the EU has treated Ireland fairly

Driving change: the move to electric cars Photograph:  PA

John FitzGerald: National Mitigation Plan has many ideas for action but very few decisions

There is no agreed headline growth figure for Ireland for 2016 because we are not yet able to disentangle all the complex multinational relationships affecting the economy in that year

Irish economy: Figure which seems ‘just right’ would be growth of just over 5%

Environmentally friendly: a pay-by-weight regime cuts waste by roughly half. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty

John FitzGerald: For even bigger savings, we should rethink how waste firms compete

Grand Canal Dock in Dublin. Land prices are rising rapidly in response to the increased sale price for housing. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Financial incentives just translate into higher values for potential development sites

An electric car being charged. The electrification of road transport will have important implications for the economy across a range of dimensions. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Up to €5 billion of Government revenue derived from motor transport activity

Goods traffic outside Dublin Port. Brexit is set to have a major impact on exports and imports

Impact of Brexit will be wide, and could take two decades to fully play out

We may complain about inflexible bureaucracy but that inflexibility can be a necessary barrier to the potential cancer of corruption.

Clear laws and public scrutiny create economic culture for transparent commerce

The Department of Finance is forecasting growth of 4.3 per cent this year, whereas the ESRI and the Central Bank suggest growth of 3.5 per cent to 4 per cent. Photograph: Frank Miller

Raising taxes would be best way to cut demand in order to make room for investment

Producing more renewable electricity when the wind blows comes at no additional cost to the producer, and the zero marginal cost of electricity from wind, when it is available, squeezes out more expensive electricity generated from gas or coal. Photograph: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Necessary investments will be expensive but in the long run they will be cost effective

Facebook’s European headquarters at  Grand Canal Square, Dublin. “The direct contribution of foreign multinationals to the economy comes in the form of their wage bill and the corporation tax that they pay on the profits earned in Ireland.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Domestic firms, not multinationals, behind bulk of growth in economy in recent years

Swinging in the wind: Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in Co Antrim. Photograph: iStock

Economic shock and a cut in Westminster transfers could blight living standards

London: A traditional destination for Irish emigrants going to the UK. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

Ireland and Britain have been a common labour market for decades. That may change

'New home-building in any period is offset by  losses of housing units over that same time. Such losses can take place through dilapidation,  demolition  or the conversion of houses containing bedsits to single-family homes.'

Census figures on homes broadly consistent with housing completions

Pluses and minuses of inflation: in 1975 and 1981, the inflation rate in Ireland was over 20 per cent.    Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty

John FitzGerald: one dark side of low inflation is the erosion of monetary policy power

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

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