A wage recovery

Posted on February 27, 2015 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI

In the last year the Central Bank has urged trade unions to raise their wage demands. What? Yes it did happen. But not here. The German Central Bank, the Bundesbank, urged German trade unions to up their wage demands – at least above the rate of inflation (the message was relayed through Jens Ulbrich the Bundesbank chief economist at the Bank). Somehow, it is unlikely that Dame Street (or Merrion Street) will be issuing similar advice in the Republic of Ireland. As matters stand, real wages have been in free fall since 2009 – compounding a fall in levels of consumer demand. Last week’s news of a modest recovery in average weekly earnings is welcome (Chart 1).

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Posted in: IncomeLabour costsWages

Low Pay and the Living Wage

Posted on February 27, 2015 by Micheál Collins

Micheal Collins profile

At a meeting earlier this week, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation focused on the topic of Low Pay and the Living Wage.

In a contribution to the committee, I first outlined some context for their examination of these issues, before going into more detail on the concept of a Living Wage.

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Posted in: IncomeJobsLabour costsLiving wageWages

Government spending and revenue in the Republic of Ireland

Posted on February 26, 2015 by Tom McDonnell

Tom McDonnell profile

The NERI’s Quarterly Economic Facts contains a range of indicators on the public finances. One of these indicators compares levels of government revenue and public spending in the Republic of Ireland with that of other European Union economies. The basic method of comparison is to measure total government revenue and total public spending as percentages of GDP. Total general government revenue is largely obtained from taxes and social security contributions but also includes other receipts of public authorities. The largest items of public spending by function are social protection measures (mainly social transfers), followed by spending on health and then spending on education.

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Posted in: Government SpendingMacroeconomicsTaxation

Unlearning 'economics'

Posted on February 21, 2015 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI

Economics has been described as a ‘science’. A ‘science’ is a body of knowledge and methods which uses evidence and measurement linked to the exercise of testing, repeating and predicting. Most first-year students of ‘economics’ will be taught that it is a ‘positive’ science in the sense that it establishes ‘what is’ rather than ‘what ought to be’ (the latter being being dealt with by ‘normative’ disciplines and approaches). Nowadays, many economists like to think of themselves as neutral, above identity or social class interest and purveyors of ‘robust’ analysis, commentary and values-free policy recommendations based on detached ideas of ‘efficiency’ and ‘effectiveness’. Yawn.

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Where now for employment growth in Northern Ireland

Posted on February 19, 2015 by Paul Mac Flynn

The construction sector in Northern Ireland saw the largest fall in employment across the economy. Even now, over six years since the property crash there are still 30% fewer jobs in the sector than there were in 2008. Many of the jobs in the construction sector would have been mid-level skilled positions that commanded decent wages and formed the backbone of employment in many communities.


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Posted in: JobsNorthern Ireland

Wealth in Ireland – at last some robust data

Posted on February 18, 2015 by Micheál Collins

Despite its prominence in various public policy discussions over recent years, detailed information on wealth in Ireland has been sparse. For the most part discussion on the distribution of wealth, and concepts such as a wealth tax, were based on hunches and guestimates or assumptions that the wealth distribution must have in some way resembled the income distribution (at least as unequal and probably worse).

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Posted in: IncomeInequalityTaxation

Voilà la différence

Posted on February 14, 2015 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI

As you ponder last Saturday’s match between France and Ireland you might consider some of the striking differences in both parts of the world. The culture, institutions and politics of France are very different to those in Ireland where, to some extent, the political culture has been shaped by the neighbouring island as well as the complex questions raised by national identity and affiliation within Ireland. The role of the state, the legal system and the balance of power between central and sub-country level authorities is very different.

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NERI Seminar: Funding Universal Health & Social Care in Ireland

Posted on February 12, 2015 by Daragh McCarthy

Yesterday's NERI seminar, given by Professsor Charles Normand, examined the drivers of health care expenditure and assessed the feasibility of universal health care in Ireland. Professor Normand argued that it is feasible to develop a practical definition of universal care, and to work out the costs over time of providing this access.

Yesterday's presentation was based on a recent paper by Professor Normand that makes the case for free access at point of use to universal health care, and addressed the disadvantages of two tier approaches to access. The paper also looks at efficiency of provision, and the scope to use efficiency gains to ensure affordability.

Normand, Charles "Funding Universal Health and Social Care in Ireland: Ageing, dying, and affordability". Paper presented at the NERI Seminar Series, February 2015.


Posted in: Government Spending

Annual Labour Market Conference: Call for Papers

Posted on February 10, 2015

NERI Labour Market Conference

The NERI—in conjunction with Centre for Irish Business & Economic Performance, Queen’s University Management School— will host the third annual NERI Labour Market Conference on 1 May 2015. The event will be held in Riddel Hall, Queen's University Belfast. The conference will run from 9.30am-4pm and will include approximately 15 research papers dealing with a range of key features of labour market policy and practice.

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Posted in: GenderJobsLabour costsWages

Unemployment across the EU 28

Posted on February 09, 2015 by Daragh McCarthy

For many countries in Europe significant, unexploited sources of economic growth remain and unemployment rates across the EU 28 are well above the level recorded before the recession started in 2008—though they have dropped slightly from a peak in early 2013.

With an average unemployment rate of 17.1 per cent, the sub-set of countries at the centre of much political and media attention at various points over the past five years—Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Cyprus—have some of the highest unemployment rates across EU Member States. 

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Posted in: Jobs

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