Monday Blog—Review of 2014

Posted on July 27, 2015 by Tom Healy

This week's blog looks back at articles from 2014:



Main Keyword

Other Keywords

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Posted in: Government SpendingIncomeInequalityInvestmentJobsLiving wageMacroeconomicsTaxationWages

Working, yet living below the poverty line: ‘The Working Poor’

Posted on July 23, 2015 by Micheál Collins

One in every seven of the Irish population (15.2%) lives on an income which is less than the official poverty line – about €202 per adult per week. Given a population of approximately 4.61 million people this implies that just over 700,000 people live at risk of poverty.

In the latest edition of the NERI’s Quarterly Economic Facts document, indicator 5.3 examines the composition of those living below the poverty line in Ireland. The latest data, for 2013, is reproduced in the chart below.

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Posted in: InequalityJobsWages

Some context to Welfare Spending

Posted on July 21, 2015 by Paul Mac Flynn

An article appeared in this morning's Belfast Telegraph outlining expenditure on some welfare benefits in Northern Ireland for the latest financial year. The figures were obtained in response to a parliamentary question to the Minister for Social Development and can be found here . The article made a number of claims about where expenditure has increased and then went on to quote some rather inept comparisons between the financial positions of Northern Ireland and Greece. All too often the debate in Northern Ireland regarding welfare reform has been sensationalist rather than intelligent. It is worth putting the figures reported today in some context.

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Posted in: Government SpendingNorthern Ireland

Monday Blog—Review of 2015 so far

Posted on July 20, 2015 by Tom Healy

I am on leave for the next few weeks, so this Monday blog recaps on the topics covered over the opening half of the year. 



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Other Keywords

An economy that works for the people

13 July 


Taxation, Social wage, Investment

Emigration has taken its toll

6 July 


Demography, Young workers, Social capital

First principle: Do no harm

29 June 


Equity, Social capital, Household income

Solidarity key to avoiding a European tragedy

22 June 


Government finances, Investment, Sovereign debt

TTIP in trouble

15 June

International trade

Investment, Public services

Wages on the rise after 7 years of stagnation

8 June


Inequality, Household income

All islands economy

1 June


Innovation, Sustainability, Economic growth

From correction to prevention

25 May


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An economy that works for the people

Posted on July 12, 2015 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI

An economy that works is one that enables workers, their families and communities to not only survive but flourish and prosper in the widest sense that no measure of GDP or income can adequately capture.   But, a society is more than the sum of individuals or households and a properly functioning economy is one where people have not only the theoretical right to employment, a living income and wage, public services and accommodation but a practical right to participate in the production and overall direction of goods and services that make these rights real and meaningful.

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Living Wage 2015 €11.50 per hour

Posted on July 06, 2015 by Micheál Collins

The 2015 Living Wage has been calculated by the Living Wage Technical Group. It is €11.50 per hour. The new figure represents an increase of 5c per hour over the 2014 rate (€11.45). The increase has been driven by changes in the cost of living and changes in the taxation system over the past year.

The Republic of Ireland Living Wage was established in 2014 and is part of a growing international set of similar figures which reflect a belief across societies that individuals working full-time should be able to earn enough income to enjoy a decent standard of living.

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Posted in: IncomeLiving wage

Emigration has taken its toll

Posted on July 03, 2015 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI

Significant progress has been made in reducing the overall rate of unemployment in the Republic of Ireland since 2012 when it peaked at one in seven in  the workforce. Still, the overall rate remains close to one in ten and is double that in the case of persons under the age of 26. As in previous Irish recessions, outward migration has acted as a very significant ‘safety valve’ in facilitating the movement of a large number of young persons to other countries to take up work there.  Just how many have left and what impact would their staying have had on unemployment, government finances and living standards here?  There has been a striking absence of public debate or research on these important questions. Still more noticeable has been the absence of debate about the decision to reduce the rate of job seeker allowance to new entrants to the Live Register under the age of 26. Against a context of pre-election budgetary and labour market ‘pay back’ it seems that young people join lone parents, migrants, homeless and other groups as the voiceless when it comes to determining public policy priorities.

First, it is useful to review some facts (all available from the CSO online database):

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Whose on the Minimum Wage?

Posted on July 02, 2015 by Micheál Collins

Micheal Collins profile

A new NERI research paper estimates the number of workers on the minimum wage and further profiles these workers by gender, by the sector they work in and by their employment status (full-time, part-time, permanent, temporary etc). The data also allows an examination of the household/family circumstances of workers on the Minimum Wage.

The key findings from the paper are:

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Posted in: GenderIncomeInequalityJobsLabour costsWages

First principle: Do no harm

Posted on June 27, 2015 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI

On Thursday of this week just as half a million children at primary school begin their summer holidays many thousands of children in families with one parent face a drop in family income - a sharp drop in some cases by as much as €140 per week.  Just at a time when working parents are under severe pressure to find chilcare for their children after school their incomes will be cut sharply.  The end of austerity in Ireland has been greatly exaggerated. Parenting can be a challenging undertaking. Parenting alone or mainly alone – for whatever reason – can be particularly challenging. A living income, social support and access to help are vital to help parents and children avoid poverty.  Economists and statisticians need to be careful when describing the nature of work and household composition.

References to ‘jobless households’ or ‘activation measures’ betray an underlying set of assumptions or values about (a) the nature of work and (b) value of different kinds of work. Add to this a widespread (but by no means universal) prejudice that lone parents (typically mothers) are in some way to blame and need to be 'encouraged' to enter the workforce and avoid 'welfare dependency'.  In Ireland due to the restraints of political correctness such prejudices are rarely articulated explicitly. In the UK such restraints have been thrown to the winds under the general heading of 'welfare reform'.

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Tax Increases Since the Bailout: the facts

Posted on June 26, 2015 by Micheál Collins

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny, speaking in Brussels on Thursday, mentioned the following in the context of the ongoing negotiations regarding a debt/bailout deal for Greece:

“I pointed out at the EPP that in Ireland’s case we did not increase income tax; we did not increase VAT; we did not increase PRSI but we put up alternatives to those measures that were proposed in order to keep a pro-growth policy and to make our country competitive and to provide jobs for our people.”

His comments seem intent on highlighting the Irish-way of doing a bailout – but his memory of that bailout, including some of the adjustments that the Government he leads has delivered, is simply incorrect.

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Posted in: Taxation

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