NESC report reveals uneven economic performance on island of Ireland


The gap in economic performance on the island of Ireland between the more populated east coast and the rest of the country is highlighted in a new report from the National Economic and Social Council (NESC).

It indicates that around 40% of the island’s population lives in the areas around Dublin and Belfast, offering potential for the further development of the economic “corridor” between the two, where income and education levels are already higher. to the average.

The report – A Regional Perspective on Ireland: North and South – by NESC economist Noel Cahill, points out that the Republic’s population growth since 1911 has been 41.2 percent, well above the increase in 17.9 percent in the north. Together, the island’s population is now around 7 million people.

The slowest growing areas of the Republic – the Mid-West (26.6%) and the border (30.6%) – were still well ahead of the north, although population density to the north of the border is already significantly higher.

Employment growth for the period 2000 to 2018 in the state, at 30.4 per cent, was roughly double the rate recorded in Northern Ireland during the same period (14.4 per cent) .

In the North, the strongest employment growth was recorded in Belfast, with an increase of 25.4 percent – Belfast accounts for almost a third of total employment in the North.

The share of the population of the Republic with a higher education level (47.3%) is considerably higher than in the North (40.6%).

The study found a largely north-south income divide in the Republic – with the most prosperous areas south of a line between Galway and Dundalk, while to the north the east-west divide, with more great activity centered around Belfast.

Disposable income

In 2018, disposable income per person in the Dublin region was 17.4% above the average for the Republic and above that of any other region. Earnings were lowest in the Border and Midland regions (18.2 percent below average in each case), with these regions also ranked lowest in terms of higher education and labor market participation .

In Northern Ireland, the highest income districts are close to Belfast – with incomes 7-15% above average. Derry City and Strabane have the lowest incomes (11.5% below average) and are also below average for most of the other economic indicators examined in this paper.

Given that the area around the border has lagged in terms of development, the document sees potential in cross-border efforts to develop infrastructure, investment and indigenous industry in this region.


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