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Ireland has lowest divorce rate and the highest fertility rate in the EU, and its population is increasing at a higher rate than in any other EU country according to the Central Statistics office (CSO) today.
In 2009, the CSO says Ireland was in recession. GDP fell sharply for the second year in a row, the public balance deficit was the highest of any EU member state, and government debt increased to nearly two-thirds of GDP, having been only a quarter two years before, according to the report Measuring Ireland’s Progress 2009, published by the CSO today. Ireland’s employment rate fell below the EU average, and its unemployment rate was the sixth highest rate in the EU. While inflation fell in 2009 – the only other EU states with price falls were Portugal and Spain – Irish prices remain high by EU standards. The productivity of the Irish workforce remained above the EU average.
Employment and unemployment: The employment rate (15-64) in Ireland rose from 65% in 2000 to 69.2% in 2007, but then fell to 60.2% by 2010. The male employment rate was stable over the 2000 to 2008 period at about 76% but fell sharply over the next two years to stand at 64.2% in early 2010. The female employment rate increased from 53.8% in 2000 to 60.4% in 2008 before falling to 56.3% in early 2010. In 2009, Ireland’s employment rate was below the EU average, and its unemployment rate was the sixth highest rate in the EU (Tables 3.1, 3.2 and 3.6).
In 2009, Ireland had the highest proportion of young people in the EU, and the lowest proportion of old people. Student numbers increased in 2009, particularly at third-level. The proportion of the Irish population aged 25-34 in Ireland that has completed third-level education is the second highest in the EU. The pupil-teacher ratio at primary level in Ireland in high by EU standards, though the early school-leaver rate is better than the EU average. Over the four-year period 2004-2008, homicide offences fell by nearly one tenth and sexual offences by a fifth, though most other categories recorded increases. The number of murders/manslaughters recorded in Ireland fell from its peak of 84 in 2007 to 55 in 2008. Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions remain high, but its level of acid rain precursor emissions continues to fall.
Economy: The value of GDP fell by 11.3% in 2009. The public balance deficit was 14.3% of GDP, the largest of any EU member state. Government debt increased steeply to 64% of GDP in 2009, having been 25% only two years before. Nonetheless, in 2009 Ireland had the second highest GDP per capita in the EU 27 at 31% above the EU average, although, based on GNI, Ireland was the tenth highest. The productivity of the Irish workforce in 2009, measured by GDP per person employed, was about a third higher than the EU average. As Irish employees work longer hours, the productivity per hour worked is relatively lower, but still about 4% above the EU average (Tables 1.1, 1.3, 1.5, 1.9, 3.3 and 3.4).
Prices: Inflation in Ireland (as measured by the HICP) fell in 2009. The only other EU states with price falls were Portugal and Spain. Over the past decade, Ireland became less competitive, with the harmonised competitiveness indicator (deflated by consumer prices) increasing by 31% between 2000 and 2009; this indicates a significant deterioration in price competitiveness for Ireland vis-à-vis our main trading partners. Appreciation of the Euro against other major currencies contributed to this decline. In 2008 Ireland had the second highest price levels in the EU (Tables 1.17, 1.18, 1.20 and 1.22).
Social cohesion: In 2008, 4.2% of the population were in consistent poverty. This was a reduction on the level recorded in 2007, when 5.1% of the population was living in consistent poverty. Voter turnout at Dáil elections gradually declined from over 76% in the 1970s to less than 63% in 2002 before increasing to 67% in 2007. This general decline was mirrored in most EU countries. Ireland’s net official development assistance increased from 0.38% of GNI in 2004 to 0.59% in 2008, still short of the UN 2007 target of 0.7% (Tables 4.6, 4.9, 4.10 and 4.12).
Education: Student numbers in Ireland increased in 2009, particularly at third-level. In 2009, 45% of the population aged 25-34 had completed third level education, the second highest rate across the EU. The proportion of the Irish population aged 18-24 who left school with at most lower secondary education was 11.3% in 2008, better than the EU average of 14.9%. The pupil-teacher ratio at primary level in Ireland in the school year 2006/2007 was joint fifth highest in the EU 27 at 17.9. Eleven of the reporting EU member states had a pupil-teacher ratio of less than 13 at primary level (Tables 5.2, 5.4, 5.7 and 5.12).
Health: An average of €3,299 (at constant 2008 prices) per person was spent on non-capital public expenditure on health care in Ireland in 2008, an increase of nearly 62% on the 1999 level. However total expenditure on health is lower than the EU 27 average. Life expectancy at birth in Ireland is 76.8 years for males and 81.6 years for females, and these figures are reasonably close to the EU average. A 65-year old man in Ireland can now expect to live a further 16.6 years, while a 65-year old woman can expect to live 19.8 years (Tables 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3).
Population: The population of Ireland increased by 17.7% to 4.46 million in the period 2000 to 2009, the highest rate of increase in the EU. The rate of natural increase of the population in Ireland was 10.5 per 1,000 in 2008 compared with an EU 27 average of only 1.2. In 2008, Ireland was the only EU country with a fertility rate greater than 2; the EU average was 1.53. The divorce rate in Ireland was 0.8 divorces per 1,000 population in 2007, the lowest rate in the EU. In 2009, Ireland had the highest proportion of young people (0-14) in the EU, and the lowest proportion of old people (65 and over); these combined to give Ireland an age dependency ratio that was similar to the EU average (Tables 7.1, 7.7, 7.9, 7.11 and 7.14).
Housing: The number of dwelling units built increased steadily in recent years and peaked at almost 90,000 in 2006 before collapsing to about 26,400 in 2009, the level that prevailed before the mid-1990s. The average value of a new housing loan in Ireland rose from €92,000 in 1999 to €270,000 in 2008 (Graph 8.1 and table 8.3).
Crime: Over the four-year period 2004-2008, homicide offences fell by nearly one tenth and sexual offences by a fifth; most other categories recorded increases, including controlled drug offences (+137%), weapons and explosive offences (+86%), and road and traffic offences (+79%). The number of murders/manslaughters recorded in Ireland decreased from its peak of 84 in 2007 to 55 in 2008 (Tables 9.1 and 9.6.).
Environment: Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions were at 121.3% of 1990 levels in 2008. This was 8.3 percentage points higher than the Kyoto 2008-2012 target. The level of acid rain precursor emissions in Ireland has fallen from 493.4 SO2 equivalent per 1,000 tonnes of gas emitted in 1999 to 340.1 in 2007, 11% above the Gothenburg Protocol 2010 target level of 306. This decrease is mainly due to lower levels of sulphur dioxide emissions. The percentage of waste recovered in Ireland rose to 36% in 2008, and 60% of waste was landfilled. The landfill percentage varies widely in EU states, from 94.2% in Bulgaria to only 0.5% in Germany, where incineration is used to convert waste to energy (Tables 10.1, 10.7, 10.8 and 10.9).