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Thinking aloud about goods and services in the public domain

Posted on October 19, 2014 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI

‘Economics’ has been defined as a ‘science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses’ (Lionel Robbins).  While I have difficulty with an understanding which regards economics as a ‘science’ (scientific methods may be used but, surely, that does not make ‘economics’ a science), the notion of scarcity, choice and desired ends cuts across all public debates on how we should organise production and consumption of the earth’s resources. 

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Income Taxation and Budget 2015

Posted on October 17, 2014 by Micheál Collins

Budget 2015 (Public investment in social housing)

Judged from an income taxation perspective, Budget 2015 was reminiscent of Budgets of ten years ago, or more - maybe a worrying starting point! Cuts to income taxes dominated the announcements, and policy implementation within the Budget. This was at the cost of other priorities, including securing a more stable basis for growth and recovery in the years to come.

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Posted in: IncomeLiving wageMacroeconomicsTaxationWages

Overview of Budget 2015

Posted on October 16, 2014 by Tom McDonnell

Tom McDonnell profile

There are some positive elements to the Budget but overall it represents a major missed opportunity.

The economics behind Budget 2015 are shaky to say the least. An expansionary budget based on tax cuts for the better off fails the economic best practice test and also fails the equity test. The Budget 2015 tax changes are regressive with single earners on €70,000 benefiting by four times as much as minimum wage earners from the direct tax changes. Taking into account the water charges the ESRI have confirmed that poorer households will lose out from Budget 2015 while richer households will gain.

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Posted in: Government SpendingMacroeconomicsTaxation

Budget 2015 and Public Investment in Social Housing

Posted on October 15, 2014 by Daragh McCarthy

ProfilePicDMC

There are over 90,000 people on the waiting list for social housing.  This level of demand for a basic need required a substantial investment in housing, and, in this regard, Budget 2015 was a significant first step. The headline investment of €2.2 billion over the coming three years to provide 10,000 social housing units will make a difference.

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Posted in: Government SpendingInvestmentJobs

The Shifts and the Shocks

Posted on October 10, 2014 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI

My review of Martin Wolf's book, The Shifts and the Shocks, was published recently in the Irish Times. The book provides a timely and serious analysis of the global situation and outlines some pointers about what needs to happen next if we are not to be condemned to permanent stagnation. Read the full review here

Posted in: Macroeconomics

Water charges: affordability and distribution of cost.

Posted on October 10, 2014 by Tom McDonnell

Tom McDonnell profile

User based water charges went live on the 1st of October. Consumption charges are regressive, impact disproportionately on low income households and the introduction of user based water charges raises significant affordability issues. The current system of free allowances is expensive, poorly targeted (with subsidies for richer households) and economically inefficient. In the accompanying NERI inBrief I briefly describe two alternative models. These are a water credit model to prevent water poverty, and a zero free allowance model to generate a more progressive distribution of the cost of water service provision while maintaining the user pays principle.

In an NERI inBrief entitled 'Water Charges, Water Poverty and Water Credits' I discuss one aspect of the new regime: affordability and distribution of cost.

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Posted in: IncomeInequality

Deprivation Trends Highlight Living Standards Impact of Recession

Posted on October 08, 2014 by Micheál Collins

Indicator 5.1 in the latest edition of the NERI’s Quarterly Economic Facts document tracks trends in poverty and deprivation in the Republic of Ireland from 2004 to 2012 – the latest year where data is available. Overall it reflects a decrease in poverty levels to 2009 before these began to increase again as the recent economic crisis took hold.

Data on deprivation offers a further insight into these recent trends. It measures the proportion of the population who are unable to afford any of eleven basic items. The items range from two pairs of strong shoes, to a warm waterproof coat, to the ability to replace worn out furniture.

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Posted in: IncomeInequality

The case for investment in social housing

Posted on October 07, 2014 by Daragh McCarthy

Publication cover - Housing inBriefOct2014

"Regeneration schemes”, we must never forget, are not just about plans, structures or budgets. They are not just about the physical houses provided. They are about communities that are enabled to thrive and flourish. They are about people who are being acknowledged and encouraged to develop a proud sense of their identity, to nurture feelings of belonging that empower them to shape their present circumstances and imagine their future.
President Michael D. Higgins (2014) Speech at the opening of the Thornton Heights Housing Scheme

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Posted in: InequalityInvestment

Learning by doing - the importance of apprenticeship learning in Northern Ireland

Posted on October 02, 2014

Tom Healy, Director NERI

There is a Chinese saying: "Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I'll remember. Let me do and I will understand”. Apprenticeship – in these parts of the world  – conjures up images of young people (usually male) dressed in a blue boiler suite peering into a piece of machinery. Not so in many other parts of the world where ‘learning by doing’ is an integral part of professional and vocational education.

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Posted in: Jobs

Fact of the week: long term unemployment share

Posted on September 30, 2014 by Daragh McCarthy

Long term Unemployment Share

As shown in the latest Quarterly Economic Facts , the long term unemployment share gives the number of people that have been looking for work for 12 months or more as a proportion of the total number of people unemployed. The rate in the Republic of Ireland has risen sharply in recent years, over taking the EU15 average in the final quarter of 2009. The Republic now has the second highest rate in the EU15.

 

The long term unemployment share in the EU 15, 2014 Q1

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Posted in: Jobs

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