Wednesday, October 10 11:52:34
Ireland had the lowest inflation in the EU between 2007 and 2011 but prices remain high by EU standards, a new report summarising Irish economic and social statistics from the CSO today shows.
Meanwhile, Ireland was the fifth most expensive EU state in 2011, after Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg with prices 17pc above the EU average.
However this represents a considerable improvement on 2008 when Irish prices were the second highest in the EU, at 30pc above the EU average, according to the report "Measuring Ireland's Progress", published by the CSO today.
After three successive years of falling GDP, Ireland recorded a positive GDP growth rate in 2011 of 1.4pc. The public balance deficit was the highest of any EU member state at just over 13pc of GDP, while government debt increased to just over 108pc of GDP, having been at only 25pc of GDP in 2007. The number of new houses and apartments, after peaking at almost 90,000 in 2006, collapsed to 10,480 in 2011, below the level in 1970. Ireland's employment rate was below the EU average, and its unemployment rate was the fifth highest rate in the EU. The productivity of the Irish workforce remained above the EU average.
Ireland has the highest fertility rate and the lowest divorce rate in the EU, its population is increasing at a higher rate than in any other EU country and it has the highest proportion of young people and the second lowest proportion of old people in the EU. Average class size at primary level in Ireland is the second highest in the EU, though the early school-leaver rate is better than the EU average. The proportion of the population aged 25-34 in Ireland that has completed third-level education is the third highest in the EU. Over the six-year period 2005-2011, the number of kidnapping and related offences increased by over 40pc while the number of weapons and explosives offences increased by over a third and the number of controlled drug offences increased by just under a third. The number of murders/manslaughters recorded in Ireland fell from its peak of 84 in 2007 to 44 in 2011.
The GDP growth rate was 1.4pc in 2011. The public balance deficit was 13.1pc of GDP, the largest of any EU member state but a big improvement on 2010 when it was 31.2pc. And government debt increased substantially to 108.2pc of GDP in 2011, the third highest debt/GDP ratio in the EU, having been 24.8pc only four years previously. Nonetheless, in 2011 Ireland had the fourth highest GDP per capita in the EU at 27pc above the EU average, although, based on GNI, Ireland was the eleventh highest at 2pc above the EU average. Ireland's gross fixed capital formation fell sharply since 2007 to only 10.1pc of GDP in 2011, lower than any other EU state. The productivity of the Irish workforce in 2011, measured by GDP per person employed, was nearly 40pc higher than the EU average. As Irish employees work longer hours, the productivity per hour worked is relatively lower, but still 28pc above the EU average.
Inflation in Ireland (as measured by the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices) over the period 2007-2011 was the lowest in the EU. Ireland had the fifth highest price levels in the EU in 2011 with prices 17pc above the EU average and only Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg were more expensive. However this is an improvement on 2008 when price levels in Ireland were 30pc above the EU average and were the second highest in the EU.
The employment rate (for those aged 15-64) in Ireland rose from 65.2pc in 2002 to 69.2pc in 2007, but fell to 59.1pc by 2012. The male employment rate was stable over the 2002 to 2008 period at about 76pc but fell sharply over the next three years to 62.9pc in 2012. The female employment rate increased from 55.2pc in 2002 to 60.7pc in 2007 before falling to 55.4pc in 2012. In 2011, Ireland's employment rate was below the EU average, and its unemployment rate was the fifth highest rate in the EU.
In 2010, 6.2pc of the population were in consistent poverty. This was an increase on the level recorded in 2009, when 5.5pc of the population was living in consistent poverty.