To take our minds off the heavier economic / financial topics for a while I thought I would share some thoughts provoked by the Annual Summary of Vital Statistics for 2010 published at the end of June. Taken in conjunction with the preliminary results of the 2011 Census, it reveals some surprisingly positive trends for a country in the throes of a very deep recession.
Our birth rate is holding up despite the surge in unemployment and the resumption of net emigration (even if at a more modest rate than previously feared).
Over 75,000 births were registered in 2008 – almost 60% more than in 1994 and the highest number recorded in modern times. However, this was probably the peak, as the annual total for 2010 was 2% lower than that for 2008, while the 2010Q4 figure was 4% lower than the corresponding figure for 2008.
The surge in births will have far-reaching implications for the economy’s medium-term prospects. Most immediately it is placing pressure on the educational system, but over the longer run it could be argued that our relatively youthful population will bestow a competitve advantage relative to the rest of Europe, where the ageing of populations is becoming an acute problem.
The preliminary results of last April’s Population Census are available here.
They show continued strong population growth, averaging 1.6% a year over the last five years.
The CSO is to be complimented on the timely production of this very informative release.
Last nights programme on Irish playwriting during bubble and bust was thought-provoking and enjoyable (I’m not sure if the link works outside Ireland). It also gave us a chance to see frequent commentor on this site, Gavin Kostick, in his natural habitat.
I love Irish theatre, and the last 10-15 years have given us some fabulous plays. But O’Toole wanted something more: art that engaged with the really big themes in Irish society, a lot of which are, nowadays, economic. I found myself wondering how you would have written a bubble play that would have been more than an unfunny and joyless (Michael Colgan’s phrase) social satire. But surely there are cleavages in Irish society today that are ripe for artistic exploration.
The OECD has launched a new index with the aim of facilitating comparisons of the quality of life across countries. You can find the country summaries here.
Ireland does quite well in the rankings, although the usual caveat about using GDP in an Irish context applies. Moreover, the data used are mostly from 2008 and we have undoubtedly slipped towards the relegation zone since then.