Ireland Once Again Among the Poorest Countries in Western Europe

I heard one of the new TDs on the radio, repeating that well-practiced line about Irish government expenditures/entitlements not really being excessive, since “Ireland is one of the richest countries in Europe.” That was then, this is now (from the Sunday Business Post). Using GNP as a metric, Ireland’s per capita income ranking has fallen sharply, back to where it was prior to the 1990s boom, among the five poorest (or least-rich) countries in western Europe. The Irish government and banking sector are also in receivership, and are dependent upon a recalcitrant EU benefactor. So please, TDs and interest group lobbyists, no more about how we can afford your favourite expenditure since we are one of the richest countries in Europe.

13 thoughts on “Ireland Once Again Among the Poorest Countries in Western Europe”

  1. The statement that Ireland is among the poorest nations in Western Europe is predicated on the idea that our GNP (presumambly by head) will be found to be 8 per cent below the EU 15 average. This is a prediction, not a fact. Irish GNI per head was €29,700 in 2009, according to eurostat. The EU 15 average was €27,400. Incidently, the figure for the UK was €25,700, so I’d expect that we’ll come ahead of them, too, when the numbers for 2010 come out.

  2. Richest EU countries have the highest taxes; Irish tax burden will be as high as Denmark’s by 2014

    Rossa White when at Davy last year (link on page above) said Ireland was never a wealthy country; he said probably the best way to compare the wealth of countries is to look at the capital stock; years of high income can be turned into physical wealth if invested properly and he took three small nations as an example: Belgium, Finland and Ireland.

    The three are closely matched in the euro-area income per capita table, albeit that Ireland slipped behind in 2009. But no Irish resident who has visited Belgium or Finland would have the audacity to claim that this country is wealthier. Transport infrastructure is vastly superior in those countries, as is the telecommunications network, and public services are delivered from higher-spec schools and hospitals.

    White said it is remarkable to think that in 2000, the unproductive capital stock exceeded the productive stock by €14bn. By 2008, that gap was a whopping €118bn!

  3. You’re loaded with debt, so they send the heaves round, demanding your assets and payment of exsting debts, by means of further debt and at a ritzy interest rate.

    Some ‘benefactors’.

  4. The most worrying is the ratio of private income/private indebtedness .The Irish will have a huge chunk of their income paying back loans to pay for assets whose price are falling.

  5. And yet people say we can’t renegotiate the EU/IMF deal. How can we possibly afford to pay it back?

    More evidence of insolvency. But hey, at least economics is the study of choices over scarce resources. I know which choices I prefer.

  6. “Ireland Once Again Among the Poorest Countries in Western Europe”

    The people who governed this country for the past 14 years are largely responsible for getting us into this sorry state.

    But their fingers were finally prised from the levers of power today and we have a new government.
    Time will tell if they are going to be any good, but one has to admit that anybody would be better than the last shower and we should therefore be much more optimistic today than we were yesterday.

    I was quite impressed with the way Taoiseach Kenny handled himself in the Dail today and I see this also as a good omen.
    I was particularly impressed with the statement; “no more loans will be transferred to NAMA.”

    We may well currently be “Among the Poorest Countries in Western Europe,” but when you are at the bottom there is only one way to go and that’s up.

    Anyway, we didn’t really seem to handle all that new found wealth very well, did we?
    One would hope that when we earn another shot at the big time we’ll be better able to handle it.

  7. @Cormac O’Sullivan

    Exactly, I had a look at the Eurostat website and you’re right, even with the recession we are still above the EU-15 average and still one of the top(not bottom) five in Europe.

    The key is to get growth going again this decade so as to preserve our position at the top of the leaderboard. Hopefully the incoming government can help in this regard.

  8. Or Cathal, we could of course just get rid of 10% of the population by forcing them to emigrate!

  9. @Cathal
    Also these are per capita figures. I wonder how accurate our population data are before the next census. I’m sure the migration makes a mess of the data.

  10. Usual bull from the Sunday rags who need to fill paper with ink. Have they some crystal ball to tell us what the CSO figure for GNP or GDP are for 2010 and have they carried out the census already before the 10 April ??
    Whatever figure eventually comes out will be illusory as most of it will be in the hands of a pampered group still working on incremental increasing salaries in the CS/PS and the elite like Politicians on mega buck salaries and pension benefits and the very rich. As for the rest you can half the average figure arrived at as being the nominal income.

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