CSO assessment of Occupations with Potential Exposure to COVID-19

Guest post by Reamonn Lydon (Central Bank).

[Disclaimer: this blog post represents my personal views and not those of the Central Bank of Ireland or the European System of Central Banks]

The CSO has just released an experimental analysis of Occupations with Potential Exposure to COVID-19. This is useful data for anyone who wants to understand how the Covid-19 shock interacts with the structure and composition of employment.  It provides important information on which sorts of occupations and workers have been most directly affected by the restrictions to limit the spread of the virus.

Using O*NET data on the task-related content of four-digit occupations, the CSO construct an Proximity index and an Exposure to diseases index.  Here, I focus on the proximity index, although a similar analysis of the Exposure index would also be of interest.

Quoting from the background notes:

In the O*NET data “Respondents score their job on a scale of one to five where, for proximity, one indicates that the respondent does not work near other people (beyond 100 feet) while five indicates that they are very close to others (near touching) … The data is harmonised on a scale ranging from 0 to 100 by using the following equation: S = ((O-L)/(H-L)) * 100 where S is the standardised score, O the original rating score between one and five, L the lowest possible score (one) and H the highest possible score (five). Under this new classification, the standardised physical proximity measure is defined by:

0 –     I do not work near other people (beyond 100 ft.)

25 –   I work with others but not closely (for example, private office)

50 –   Slightly close (for example, shared office)

75 –   Moderately close (at arm’s length)

100 – Very close (near touching)”

The CSO has constructed a proximity score for 296 four-digit SOC10 occupations. Crucially, it then maps these to total employment, percentage female, over-55 and non-Irish using Census 2016.

Using employment weights, the median proximity score for all workers is 57.6; the mean is 61.8. The four digit occupation at the median is Sales related occupations not elsewhere classified. The lowest scoring occupation (least proximate) is Artists (21.5); the highest scoring is Paramedics (97).

The chart below shows the cumulative share of employment (y-axis) by proximity score (x-axis) for the characteristics provided by the CSO. The variation across charactistics is striking: female workers are more likely to be in ‘lower proximity jobs’, almost 60 per cent are below the median score for all workers. It is hard to pin-point a single occupation that contributes to this result for females, but a relatively higher concentration in occupations like Chartered and certified accountants, Cleaners and domestics and Administrative Occupations do stand out.  By contrast, male, younger and non-Irish workers are all more likely to be in high-proximity jobs, with just 40 per cent below the median.  The relatively higher share of younger workers on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) – 41 per cent of under-25s are on PUP currently, compared with 21 per cent of over-25s – tallies with the observation that more of these workers tend to be in higher proximity occupations, and therefore more impacted by the Covid-related restrictions.

Chart 1: Cumulative share of employment by proximity score.
Source: Own calculations using CSO 2020.

For those groups with a greater concentration in high-proximity jobs – that is, male, younger and non-Irish – there is a step-jump around 70. In terms of the occupations arround this jump, for males it includes sports and leisure activities, skilled trades, constrction and protective services. For non-Irish nationals, who make up around 15% of employment (in the 2016 data, it is closer to 20% now) it is a broadly similar set of jobs, but also including a range of food services occupations.  

Finally, the CSO has also published the median annual earnings by occupation. Chart 2 shows the average of median annual earnings by occupation for each quartile of the proximty score distribution (weighted by employment). Higher proximity occupations tend to lower paid.  For example, in the top 25 per cent of jobs by proximity score (which also happens to be a score at 75 or above), the average of earnings per occupation is around €33,500 (in 2016). The average for the bottom 25 per cent occupations (a proximity score of around 49) is €42,300.  When we control for all characteristics such as female, share of over-55s and non-Irish by population, we find that going from the least proximate quartile score (49) to the most proximate quartile score (75) is associated with earnings being around 20 per cent lower on average.

Chart 2: Earnings by proximity score
Source: Own calculations using CSO 2020.


Information on the task-related content of occupation is vital for understanding which sort of jobs are affected by the social distancing restrictions put in place to fight the Covid pandemic.  Similar work in Adrjan and Lydon (2020) shows how countries with a higher concentration of ‘high-proximty’ employment experienced a larger negative shock to labour demand when the crisis first hit. This includes Ireland. Analysing the occupational breakdown from the CSO highlights that younger, male and non-Irish workers are more concentrated in ‘high proximity roles’. These roles are also lower paid on average. This provides crucial insight into who is most affected by the Covid shock, and what sort of policies might be put in place to help certain groups of workers.


Fiscal Council Webinar

The Fiscal Council’s latest Fiscal Assessment Report, May 2020: “The Fiscal Impact of Covid-19” is out today. This is the Council’s 18th Fiscal Assessment Report, and it comes at a time when the economy is experiencing an unprecedented shock due to the pandemic and very high uncertainty. The Report assesses the economic and fiscal consequences, including a range of possible scenarios to 2025 and an assessment of the policy consequences.

The Council will be hosting a live webinar on the findings of the report on Thursday, 28 May 2020 @ 2pm Dublin time. The Council’s Acting Chairperson, Sebastian Barnes, will give a presentation followed by a Q&A session. The presentation is expected to last 30 minutes.

You can register at:


Travel and Tourism in a Post Covid Society – TRiSS Summer Series

Trinity Research in Social Science (TRiSS), in partnership with its member schools and disciplines, is organising a weekly series of online events, over the summer, on how covid19 will change society. Each week, experts from Trinity and other leading institutions around the world will be bringing their insights on how covid19 is likely to change our lives – from corporate power and climate change to civil liberties and the future of tourism & travel.

The second event – “Travel and Tourism in a Post Covid Society” – takes place on May 26th at 11am (Irish Standard Time) and is co-hosted with the Trinity Business School. As one of the world’s biggest industries, the tourism sector is facing massive repercussions from the Covid health crisis and the associated lockdown measures. Not only is it one of the hardest hit sectors, it could be the one slowest to recover from the upcoming economic recession. This timely discussion features a range of international experts.

Attendance is free but requires registration via Eventbrite. The webinar will last 75 minutes, with three 15-minute presentations and a moderated discussion afterwards. Participants include:

  • Brian Lucey from Trinity College
  • Denise O’Leary from Technological University Dublin
  • Brent Ritchie from the University of Queensland
  • Jane Ali-Knight from Edinburgh Napier University

Denise O’Leary is Assistant Head of School of Hospitality Management and Tourism in Technological University Dublin. She has extensive experience as a manager, lecturer and researcher in third level institutions in Ireland and the US and over 10 years of experience as a consultant in the private sector. One focus of her academic research is on collaboration at both an organisational and inter-organisational level and she explores collaboration in networks, including food tourism networks. She is also interested in tourism skills development. She is currently involved in the Next Tourism Generation Alliance project, an EU funded project which includes education, training and industry partners from across Europe and is tasked with developing a Blueprint for addressing skills needs in the European tourism sector.

Ritchie Brent has coordinated several research projects including Sustainable Tourism CRC and consultancy work for a number of tourism organisations in the public and private sector in Australia, England, Vietnam and New Zealand. His research interests are associated with tourism risk management. His research has focused on understanding risk from an individual and organisational perspective. His work on organisations explores risk attitudes and response strategies to effectively respond and recover from crises and disasters. He also explores tourist attitudes to risk and their risk reduction behaviour, including beach goers, Australian outbound travellers and potential travellers to the Middle East and in Indonesia.

Jane Ali-Knight is currently leading and developing the festival and event subject group as well as lecturing at Universities internationally and facilitating training and development in the field. She is Course Director of the highly successful ‘Destination Leaders Programme’ delivered with Scottish Enterprise. Her core activities fall into three main areas: event and festival related programmes; research and publications and conferences and professional events. She is currently a board member of BAFA (British Arts and Festivals Association); Without Walls; Women in Tourism; Hidden Door Festival and is a Fellow of the HEA and Royal Society of the Arts.

Chairing the session will be Brian Lucey. He is Professor of Finance at the School of Business, Trinity College Dublin. A graduate of TCD with a First Class degree in Economics in 1984, Professor Lucey has worked as a statistician in the Department of Health and as an Economist in the Central Bank, prior to joining TCD. He has studied at graduate level in Canada, Ireland and Scotland, and holds a PhD from University of Stirling.


Covid19 and a Changing Society – TRiSS summer series

Trinity Research in Social Science (TRiSS), in partnership with its member schools and disciplines, is organising a weekly series of online events, over the summer, on how covid19 will change society. Each week, experts from Trinity and other leading institutions around the world will be bringing their insights on how covid19 is likely to change our lives – from corporate power and climate change to civil liberties and the future of tourism & travel.

The first event – “COVID-19 and the Future of Cities” – takes place on May 18th at 3pm Irish Standard Time and is co-hosted with the Department of Economics at Trinity College Dublin. Attendance is free but requires registration via Eventbrite. The webinar will last 75 minutes, with three 15-minute presentations and a moderated discussion afterwards. Participants include:

  • Prof. Edward Glaeser, Harvard University
  • Prof. Jessie Handbury, University of Pennsylvania
  • Prof. Diego Puga, CEMFI
  • Prof. Martina Kirchberger, Trinity College Dublin, as chair

Edward Glaeser is the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1992. He has published dozens of papers on cities economic growth, law, and economics. In particular, his work has focused on the determinants of city growth and the role of cities as centers of idea transmission. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1992. Some of his recent work examines how COVID-19 has affected small businesses.

Jessie Handbury is an Assistant Professor of Real Estate at the Wharton School in the University of Pennsylvania. She completed her BA and PhD at Columbia University and was selected as a NBER Faculty Research Fellow, International Trade and Investment. Her research interests lie at the intersection of urban economics, trade, and industrial organization. She has developed an exposure index based on smartphone app location data to help analysis during the current pandemic.

Martina Kirchberger is an Assistant Professor at Trinity College Dublin. She is a development economist with a particular interest in urbanization, infrastructure, the construction sector, labor markets, and spatial mobility. Previously, she was an Earth Institute Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Columbia University. She received her DPhil in Economics from the University of Oxford in 2014. Some of her ongoing research examines the labor market effects of COVID-19 on low-skilled urban workers.

Diego Puga is Professor of Economics at CEMFI, in Madrid, Spain. His research interests include urban economics, economic geography and international trade. Born in Spain, where he completed his undergraduate degree in Economics, he obtained his Ph.D. in Economics from the London School of Economics in 1997. He is member of the Multidisciplinary Workgroup advising the Spanish government on scientific issues related to COVID-19 and its future consequences.


Understanding the Covid19 pandemic and its consequences [SSISI online event, May 21]

The Statistical & Social Inquiry Society of Ireland invites you to attend a special Symposium on the covid19 pandemic, at the seventh and final Ordinary Meeting of its 173rd session. The meeting takes place online, at 4.30pm on Thursday May 21st.

The theme for the special symposium is “Understanding the Covid19 pandemic and its consequences” and its aim is to provide views from a number of different perspectives on the covid19 pandemic and what it means for policymakers and wider society. The symposium will be chaired by Society President Danny McCoy and will comprise six short contributions of no more than ten minutes, followed by a general discussion:

  1. Catherine Comiskey (Trinity College Dublin), “The epidemiology of Covid-19: Learning from the past and modelling for the future”
  2. Jean Acheson (Revenue Commissioners), “The impact of covid19 on income and employment: early evidence from administrative data”
  3. Reamonn Lydon (Central Bank of Ireland), “Measuring the economic impact of covid19 in real time”
  4. Conor Lambe (Danske Bank), “Covid19 and the Northern Irish economy: initial insights”
  5. Shana Cohen (TASC), “What has Covid-19 told us about inequality in Ireland?”
  6. Gerard Brady (Ibec), “Business in a compressed economy”

We are hosting the Syposium on the Zoom platform, which allows logging in through the Zoom app, through a web browser or by phone. To attend the event, please register here on Eventbrite, and the specific details for attending will be sent to you by email on Tuesday May 19th and again on the day of the event.

As always, non-members are welcome to attend and participate in the discussion. Given the format, you are encouraged to circulate this link to others who may be interested so that they may also register their interest and attend on the day.


Ireland’s Credit Guarantee Scheme for COVID-19 SME Lending

The government has announced a loan guarantee scheme for bank lending to Irish SME’s to help them emerge from the economic shutdown associated with the pandemic. The proposed program provides a lending bank with a guarantee giving 80% pari passu (proportional sharing) loan loss protection for eligible loans to Irish SMEs impacted by the pandemic shutdown. There is also a portfolio cap on the guarantee so that each bank can only claim 80% loss coverage on 50% of its covered loan portfolio.  This effectively shrinks the “tail risk” coverage (if the bank’s SME loan portfolio performs disastrously) to 40%. The guarantee is offset by a 50 basis point fee payable to the government. The budgeted €2 billion loan guarantee program equates to 0.58% of 2019 GDP. Policymakers still have a few weeks to best calibrate the program for maximum effectiveness before a prospective Dáil majority coalition passes the enabling legislation. Given the calamitous economic impact of the pandemic shutdown there is no guaranteed best strategy.

It is useful to compare the proposed Irish program with some of the existing programs. Spain has already opened a €100 billion 70-80% pari passu guarantee program; the budgeted magnitude equates to 8.02% of 2019 Spanish GDP. The French €300 billion loan guarantee program equates to 12.4% of French 2019 GDP. It has 90% pari passu loan coverage for lending to firms with 2019 revenues of €1.5 billion or less; 70-80% pari passu for larger firms. Most generous in the EU is the program of Germany, which has announced a loan guarantee program of €500 billion + which corresponds to 14.6% of 2019 GDP. The “plus sign” here denotes that the German government has explicitly committed to increasing the loan guarantee budget to however much above €500 billion is needed. It is not clear whether such an increase is pre-approved by the EU Commission or alternatively whether an increase will require subsequent vetting. The EU amended state aid rules require “the aid is granted on the basis of a scheme with an estimated budget” so it is ambiguous whether the German government can formally make this unlimited commitment within these newly amended rules. The German program pari passu loss coverage ranges from 100% for the smallest firms down to 80% for the largest eligible (the program covers both SMEs and larger firms, but the very largest German corporations are dealt with separately). The German program also offers fast-track approval and dispersal of funds for smaller loan amounts.

The UK is no longer bound by EU strictures regarding state aid rules and monetary financing rules and this flexibility is reflected in its SME lending aid programs. For small loans the UK government offers 100% loss coverage; 80% for larger loans, with no fee for the guarantee. For small firms (less than £41 million 2019 revenues) the government will pay the first six months of loan interest in addition to providing the guarantee, so the implicit “insurance fee” for the guarantee is negative. The small-loan Bounce Back Loan program has had a fast and successful start, whereas the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (larger loan amounts) which requires more vetting and paperwork has had less quick take-up. The UK budgeted amount for its loan guarantee programs is not fixed beforehand. The UK plan originally had a portfolio cap (as in the proposed Irish plan) but they have dropped it.  The very successful joint programs of the US Fed / US Treasury involve 95% outright loan purchases (equivalent to 95% pari passu loss coverage) with no fee payable. One of the two US schemes (the Paycheck Protection Loan Plan, see my earlier blog entry) has a large subsidy component since the loan amount due is partly or entirely forgiven if the loan proceeds are spent on retaining staff that otherwise would have been made redundant. Unlike the US or UK, Ireland has the prospect of a eurozone sovereign debt crisis looming in the background, shrinking the available fiscal space for bold giveaway programs to save jobs. Ireland also must navigate through the state-aid restrictions of the EU Commission.

The economic rationale for these loan guarantees is fundamental and needs to be understood clearly. To encourage a quick macroeconomic recovery, countries need their banking sectors to engage in this lending which, in the absence of a loan guarantee, is not in their financial interest. Sector risks are substantial in this new SME lending since no one knows for sure which currently impacted sectors will remain closed or deeply troubled. For example, there will be likely be considerable SME lending demand from Irish hotels. Should banks be willing to lend to hotels in Ireland, to allow them to reopen? In the absence of a government-funded loan guarantee, the correct answer is no. Commercial banks earn their value by “being boring,” that is lending to low-risk activities, with unsystematic risks which diversify across individual businesses and sectors, resulting in a modest and predictable realised default rate. In exchange the banks earn a relatively small but dependable interest margin over funding costs. The very uncertain prospects for SME lending outcomes in the post-pandemic period, with large systematic sector risks, are too exciting to be a sensible activity for commercial banks in the absence of a government loan guarantee.

The SME loan guarantee programs of EU countries include a 20-100 basis point loan guarantee fee paid to the national government so that each program can be ruled to not violate the EU rules against individual member state aid to industry. It does not make sense if the guarantee fees payable for these programs are market-value based fees which fully compensate for the value of the risk capital. Charging a market-value-based fee for the guarantee defeats the purpose of the program: to give powerful incentives for otherwise-too-risky lending to SMEs in vulnerable sectors.

Patrick Honohan (2020) overviews these loan-guarantee programs internationally and expresses his concern that these loans may impose too much debt on troubled firms and generate prolonged financial distress. Such a concern is particularly pertinent for Ireland, with its extremely slow and cumbersome non-performing loan (NPL) resolution framework. Honohan also worries that many of these government-guaranteed loans may effectively transform into subsidies via non-payment; this is particularly relevant in the case of Ireland given its political-business culture regarding NPLs. Honohan suggests adding an equity-conversion feature to the loan guarantees, but this might be a bit too complicated in the Irish case.

In terms of the Irish proposal, the 80% guarantee coverage is on the low side relative to comparable nations. 90% coverage would be better; imposing a 20% risk exposure on the banks might slow take-up substantially. Getting a fast and high take-up rate requires that the program is administratively easy to access and well-incentivised for both the SMEs and banks in terms of risk-reward acceptability. The €2 billion budgeted amount seems very low. The guarantee fee (which is counterproductive) should be pushed as low as the EU commission will allow. It would be good if the smaller loans at least could have some sweetener attached, linked to payroll or job retention.

Clifford Chance (2020). Coronavirus – Guarantee Scheme in Spain. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2020]

Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (2020). Credit Guarantee Scheme for COVID-19 FAQs. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2020]

European Central Bank (2020). ECB announces new pandemic emergency longer-term refinancing operations. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2020]

European Commission (2020). Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2020]

European Commission (2020). State aid: Commission approves German measures to support economy in Coronavirus outbreak. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2020]

Financial Times (2020). State-backed SME lending picks up pace too late for many. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2020]

Financial Times (2020). UK set to launch loans scheme for small businesses. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2020]

Financial Times (2020). How will the UK’s ‘bounce back’ loans work? [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2020]

Financial Times (2020). Loan guarantees: what funding will be available to UK businesses? [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2020]

Financial Times (2020). More than 100,000 apply for ‘bounce back’ loans. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2020]

Patrick Honohan (2020). Pandemic loans to firms: Postponing the evil day? [online] Peterson Institute for International Economics. Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2020]

Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (2020). Pandemic stabilization and recovery fund. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 May 2020]

Bruno Robino (2020). Capped Portfolio Guarantee. European Investment Bank. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 May 2020] 

Shearman and Sterling (2020). Updated – Covid-19 France: State Guarantee Scheme for New Money Loans. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2020]

The Telegraph (2020). Germany’s 100pc guarantees highlights shortcomings of UK loan scheme. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2020]


Capital Sources for Pandemic Emergency Funding of Irish SMEs: Can Ireland Mimic the US Approach?

The effective closure of the Irish economy due to the pandemic generates very difficult problems in economic analysis; Irish policymakers are struggling to respond quickly. The situation is unprecedented, and it is hazardous to speculate about best policy responses. Nonetheless, with that caveat clearly stated, I want to make some informal remarks about the best ways to get adequate lending to Irish SMEs to help them resume normal business, and the role of the Irish banking sector.

The main point that I want to make is that the best approach to SME support might be through bank-mediated lending in tandem with capital replenishment via loan purchases by the government or central bank. The US Fed has already demonstrated that this works, with a very large loan purchase program already showing positive impact [1]. If loan purchases are not feasible, perhaps some other method of providing contingent capital to the banking sector (to encourage lending) could be used.

It is useful to strip the problem back to some basics: there are three possible sources of funding in this context: government expenditure, private bank capital, and monetary financing through the central bank, and two funding types: cash subsidies or loans. There are of course numerous potential mixtures and combinations of these three capital sources and two funding types.

In the USA, the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Loan Plan (PPLP) is being run by the Small Business Administration in collaboration with the commercial banking system (the $349 billion authorization was quickly exhausted; the amount will likely be topped up this week with an additional $250 billion). Ireland quickly implemented a somewhat parallel scheme, the Covid-19 Pandemic Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS). The PPLP and TWSS have similar objectives, but the TWSS is a direct wage payment/subsidy whereas the American PPLP is packaged as bank-mediated lending with a subsidy attached if the SMEs workers are successfully retained.

The direct-subsidy approach of the TWSS provides a fast start but is limited by its expensiveness per euro of impact. TWSS unlike PPLP also fails to take advantage of the well-developed lending and credit monitoring capabilities of the private banking sector. The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland Covid-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme uses the private banking sector but is limited in scope [2].

In the case of SME support based on private bank lending rather than subsidies, it is fair to ask why not rely entirely on private bank capital? Again, it is important to strip back to some fundamental issues. One, the capital at risk from emergency SME lending is potentially large in magnitude and very risky. Two, there is a big public interest in this emergency lending taking place quickly and aggressively to get the economy back up and running normally. The risks are large and the potential (public interest) rewards are also large. The restructuring of the Irish economy post-pandemic could be modest, or it could be massive, and the downturn could be brief or prolonged. Generous SME lending is macroeconomically vital, but risky.

In the USA, the central bank (Fed) quickly implemented a $2.3 trillion debt asset purchase plan backed by its monetary resources. The $2.3 trillion authorized amount equates to 10.7% of 2019 GNP. The Fed is putting a huge amount of risk capital into unusually risky debt assets relative to the classes of assets it has previously had in its portfolio. If this program is successful in helping to restart the US economy, the Fed will get its money back and will have served the national interest. If this risky lending goes sour, which could happen, the risk capital is backstopped by $454 billion (19.7% of the capital amount) that the US Treasury has handed over to the Fed as credit insurance for the program. It is a type of contingent monetary financing which makes good sense under the circumstances.

The Fed purchase program will be split between purchases of private sector debt (78% of the total) and state and municipal debt (22%). As one component of the program, the Fed has stepped in to help facilitate the PPLP; it has launched a $350 billion program to buy up PPLP loans from banks, leaving a residual 5% ownership position in the banks. In tandem with the $350 billion purchase authorization for PPLP-linked loans, the Fed has initiated a $600 billion loan purchasing facility called Main Street Lending Program to purchase non-PPLP bank loans of small and medium-sized US firms. Additionally, the Fed has begun corporate bond purchases of up to $850 billion; note that the US corporate bond market rather than bank lending often serves as a lending vehicle for larger US firms (less true in Europe).

In a rough parallel to the Fed program, the ECB has launched the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program (PEPP) with authorized funding of €750 billion, which equates to 6.3% of 2019 euro-area GDP. The credit criteria differ from previous ECB asset purchases in that Greek non-investment-grade sovereign debt is included, but there are no major changes to the credit criteria for eligible private debt assets.

One difference between the Fed’s debt asset purchase plan and the ECB’s is that the Fed’s approach is mostly about purchasing private debt assets whereas the ECB’s is mostly about purchasing government debt assets. The ECB’s focus (very understandably) is on preventing a sovereign debt crisis in Italy, Greece and/or Spain; purchasing credit-risky private bank assets is not on the agenda.

Unlike US banks, Irish banks cannot rely on any direct capital support for emergency SME lending from their central bank. Could private bank capital in Ireland prove adequate to fund all pandemic emergency SME lending? Just prior to the pandemic Irish banks had healthy capital ratios and very ample liquidity ratios. Nonetheless, it might be better if these unusual debt assets could be moved off the banking sector balance sheet, as is being done in the US by the Fed’s purchase program. This segregates this unusual lending stream from the other lending activities of the Irish banks and allows them to continue normal lending channels for mortgages, automotive finance, new business finance, and SME expansion. Commingling the normal lending portfolios with this unusual emergency lending is potentially damaging to normal bank lending. Also, if private bank risk capital is used for this SME lending, it does not capture all the public interest rewards from this lending in helping to stabilize the economy. There is a “tragedy of the commons” market failure since the economic gains from a successful lending effort by the banks is shared widely across the economy, but the potential losses associated with the program are paid from private bank capital. This could incentivize banks to under-lend relative to what is needed. Something like the US approach seems appropriate in the circumstances.

[1] See “Federal Reserve takes additional actions to provide up to $2.3 trillion in loans to support the economy” Press Release, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, April 9th, 2020,; “With $2.3 Trillion Injection, Fedʼs Plan Far Exceeds Its 2008 Rescue” New York Times, April 9, 2020, (behind paywall) and “Fed Rolls Out $2.3 Trillion to Backstop Main Street, Local Governments,” New York Times, April 9, 2020, By Reuters, (behind paywall).

[2] See “SBCI Covid -19 Scheme,” Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, April 20th, 2020.


Science-Policy Interfaces and the Environment [SSISI online talk, April 23]

The Statistical & Social Inquiry Society of Ireland invites you to attend the sixth Ordinary Meeting of the 173rd session. The meeting takes place online, at 5pm on Thursday April 23rd, and is the Society’s annual Symposium.

This year’s Symposium is entitled “Science-Policy Interfaces and the Environment” and assesses the power of science to understand and navigate the relationships among the social, environmental and economic objectives of sustainable development, with the view to strengthening the Science-Policy Interfaces on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Environment targets, with a special focus on Ireland.

The Symposium will be chaired by Danny McCoy (the Society’s President and CEO of IBEC) and contain three papers:

  1. The Future is Now: The Science-Policy Interface for achieving Sustainable Development, by Astra Bonini, UN Department of Economic & Social Affairs
  2. Developing solutions and informing Irish policymakers acros the pillars of Climate, Water & Sustainability, by Dorothy Stewart, Environmental Protection Agency
  3. Benchmarking Ireland’s performance on Environmental SDG targets for policy-making, by Patrick Paul Walsh, UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy (and an Honorary Secretary of the Society)

Following feedback from our last Ordinary Meeting, we are hosting the Syposium on the Zoom platform, which allows logging in through the Zoom app, through a web browser or by phone. To attend the event, please register here, on Eventbrite, and the specific details for attending will be sent to you by email on Tuesday April 21st and again on the day of the event.

As always, non-members are welcome to attend and participate in the discussion and, given the new format, feel free to circulate this to others who may be interested so that they may also register their interest and attend on the day.


The Northern Ireland Economy: Problems & Prospects [SSISI online talk, April 9]

The Statistical & Social Inquiry Society of Ireland is holding its fifth Ordinary Meeting of the 173rd session, where a presentation entitled “The Northern Ireland Economy: Problems and Prospects” will be given by John Fitzgerald (Trinity College Dublin & Economic & Social Research Institute) and Edgar Morgenroth (Dublin City University).

Given the measures taken to address the covid19 epidemic, this meeting will take place online, using Microsoft Teams. The talk will take place on Thursday 9th April 2020 at 4.30pm, with the vote of thanks led by Esmond Birnie (University of Ulster).

Abstract: This paper considers the lacklustre performance of the Northern Ireland economy in recent decades, in particular the very low productivity growth. The low level of human capital and the continued low levels of investment account for much of this poor performance. To address its economic weakness, Northern Ireland needs to reallocate resources to investment in physical and human capital over a sustained period. To date, large transfers from central government have ensured that the standard of living in Northern Ireland is close to the UK average and above that of Ireland, in spite of its weak economy. However, the dependence of Northern Ireland on these transfers leaves it very vulnerable to shocks. Because of Northern Ireland’s dependence on transfers and its weak economic structure, Irish unification, however it was handled, would be likely to be very expensive for both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

In order to allow the Society to plan the meeting effectively, if you are interested in attending, please register via Eventbrite. As always, non-members are welcome to attend and participate in the discussion.


Economic and Social Review: Spring Issue Published

The Spring edition of the ESR has been published. The full edition is available here.

As usual, the journal carries a wide range of articles on Economic and Social Science topics. Below are the titles, with links to the individual articles. Happy reading!

The Long-term Consequences of the Irish Marriage Bar by Irene Mosca and Robert E. Wright

Bonding and Bridging Social Capital: The Determinants of English Language Fluency and Its Effects on the Labour Market Outcome of International Students in Ireland by Zizhen Wang

Private Health Insurance in Ireland: Trends and Determinants by Kanika Kapur

The Base of Party Political Support in Ireland: An Update by David Madden

Respect Your Elders: Evidence from Ireland’s R&D Tax Credit Reform by Jean Acheson and Rory Malone

Ireland’s Fiscal Spending Multipliers by Kate Ivory, Eddie Casey and Niall Conroy

Modelling and Measuring Gains from Labour Market Desegregation in Northern Ireland by Hannah KM Kling


Lecture by Seamus Coffey Reflecting on Ireland’s Fiscal Framework



“Reflections on Ireland’s Fiscal Framework”

Seamus Coffey

Thursday 12 March 2020 @ 8.30am

(Registration + tea/coffee/pastries from 8.00am)

 Irish Tax Institute, South Block, Longboat Quay, Dublin 2

Seamus Coffey is a lecturer in the Department of Economics in University College Cork.  His research and writing focuses on the performance of the Irish economy. He recently completed a four-year term as a member of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council and served as chair for the past three years.  In October 2016, he was appointed the independent expert by the Minister for Finance to undertake a review of Ireland’s Corporation Tax code. This seminar will provide an assessment of elements of Ireland’s fiscal framework including the role and impact of the Fiscal Council, the design and implementation of fiscal rules in the face of Irish idiosyncrasies like GDP and Corporation Tax, and a discussion of some possible changes to the fiscal framework that might arise.

About the Foundation

The Foundation for Fiscal Studies was established in 1985 as an independent, non-profit making body with the primary object of promoting study and discussion of issues relating to fiscal policy. The Foundation provides a unique forum open to academics, policy makers, taxation and legal experts and the general public from which critical and constructive contributions can be made to developments in Ireland and the European Union. Our aim is to assist in the process of debate and decision-making on future fiscal policies.

If you would like to attend, please contact:

(Please note that this is an open event and everyone is welcome but we ask that you rsvp in advance)


The Dis-equalising impact of Housing

A guest post by Dr. Paul Kilgarriff from his recently published paper (gated) by the same title.

The measure of a household’s income should include not only monetary components such as salary but also non-monetary components and in-kind benefits, such as imputed rent. Imputed rent is the rent an owner can expect to receive were the house on the rental market. Being an owner-occupier does not provide a rental income however, it saves the owner from having to pay market rent. This is turn can increase a household’s potential to consume other products and services. We recently published a paper in the Journal of Housing Economics looking at the impact of housing consumption on the spatial distribution of income. 

Results show that the imputed cash flows from property ownership decreases the income share of those at the bottom of the income distribution and is inequality increasing, except in the case of those aged 65 +. Spatially the benefits of housing are greatest in urban areas where property values are highest. The small area measurements of imputed rent highlight the dis-equalising impact imputed rent and housing wealth has on inequality; the rich being able to consume more housing and thus have higher imputed rents. Overall there is an increase in inequality from a Gini of 0.37159 to 0.38595.

Table 1 highlights the impacts between income deciles. We see the share of income for those in the bottom and top decile both decreased after the inclusion of housing. The middle deciles have experienced the biggest increase in share of income. The lower groups are disadvantaged from paying housing costs and not receiving same in-kind benefits as owner-occupiers. Elderly individuals who were in the bottom quintiles (cash poor but asset rich) have increased their income share after housing costs and benefits are considered. 

Table 1

Disposable Income+ Imputed Rent+ Imputed RMADisposable Income+ Imputed Rent+ Imputed & RMA
Decile% of median% of median% of medianShareShareShare
10   28.528.328.0

We see how this looks spatially in Figure 1, which shows the Anselin Local Moran’s I for disposable income including net imputed rent. This is a measure of local spatial autocorreltation, high values located close to other high values indicate positive spatial autocorrelation. The figure shows clusters of high-high areas in the GDA and Cork city. This is because of high levels of disposable income and high imputed rents due to high property values.

Figure 1

Additional housing benefits are related to the benefit derived from the value of the asset. A reverse mortgage/annuity (RMA) enables owner-occupiers to use their home as equity to buy an annuity, which provide them with regular payments, without the need to move out or sell the house therefore providing security of tenure. Without including reverse mortgage/annuity in the analysis, the household would leave behind a significant amount of equity, which is then bequeathed to descendants contributing to inequality. Using reverse mortgage/annuity however treats households as separate units as the household will consume the value of the property before death. Households can overconsume to make up for periods of under consumption, i.e. when paying a mortgage. Reverse mortgage/annuity has the potential to financially protect households 65 + by acting as an additional pension, they have paid into over the term of the mortgage. The stream of consumption value provided by housing compensates the elderly who are ‘cash poor but asset rich’.

Policy Implications

After accounting for housing costs in the form of rent and mortgage payments and housing benefits in the form of imputed rent and reverse mortgage/annuity, the spatial distribution of welfare changes. On average the income share of the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) increases, however when the movers are examined, the high rents and property values and overall benefits to owner occupiers in the GDA, are masking the high costs young renters face. This highlights the importance of examining issues such as housing inequality at a detailed spatial scale as opposed to aggregate totals. However, overall the net gain to owner-occupiers does not exceed the net loss to non-owner-occupiers and inequality nationally increases. The inequality measures show that overall housing costs and benefits are having a regressive impact on the income distribution with those at the lower end of the income distribution disproportionately affected. The income share of lower groups decreases after net imputed rent.

In terms of policy implications, a tax on imputed rent should be examined which may reduce the inequality between those who own a house and those who are renting. The current LPT is attempting to address this however the tax is levied on all properties, this is despite private renters not receiving the same level of benefits from housing as owner-occupiers. The LPT should account for the variation in housing benefits across the life-cycle. Effective implementation may incentivise those in the older age categories to take out a reverse mortgage/annuity.

Increased uptake of RMA may result in the older age categories consuming the housing wealth as opposed to bequeathing. This can address issues relating to the inequality of inherited wealth. The high rental values particularly in the GDA may hinder an individual’s ability to save and eventually draw down a mortgage. Solutions are required to increase an individual’s potential to save. There are clear benefits to owner-occupation especially for the elderly. If current trends of decreasing home ownership levels continue, future elderly groups will be particularly vulnerable, as they would not have the financial safety net in the form of a housing asset.


This study examined the impact of net imputed rent on the distribution of income in a spatial context. The spatial impact of net imputed rent, mortgage payments, private rent, public rent (social housing schemes) and reverse mortgage/annuity on the spatial distribution of disposable income was examined for the year 2011. A spatial microsimulation model, simulated model of the Irish local economy (SMILE), was used to simulated disposable income at a detailed spatial scale. Rental and property values are estimated at a spatial scale adopting the kriging methodology. The created rental and property data were merged into the SMILE simulated dataset to examine the impact of housing on the spatial distribution of disposable income at a small area level.

Going Forward

Comparing home ownership rates between the 2011 and 2016 Census (Table 2), there is an overall drop in owner occupancy by 2%. Overall owner-occupier households have declined by ~2300; in addition, there are 48000 new households over this 5 year period. In the future, a large group will not have the benefit of homeownership in retirement in relation to both imputed rent and RMA. Although the numbers renting privately increased, the share remained the same. The difference in households private renting also varies between counties (Dublin city decreasing by over 2%; Longford increasing by 1.3%). 

Table 2

Owner (outright or mortgage)0.700.68
Renting Private0.190.18
Public Housing0.090.09
Free of Rent0.020.02
Not Stated0.010.03


This research was funded under the John and Pat Hume Doctoral Awards at Maynooth University.


DEW 2020 Annual Economic Policy Conference: save the date & call for papers

Founded in 1977, the Dublin Economics Workshop (DEW) Annual Economic Policy Conference is Ireland’s longest standing and premier forum for economic policy debate. Attended by policymakers, academics and practitioners, it aims to provide an opportunity for evidence-based policy debate and discussion. The 43rd DEW Annual Economic Policy Conference will take place on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th September 2020 in Clayton Whites Hotel, County Wexford.

The Committee would like to invite those interested in presenting at the conference to submit a paper or proposal to by Friday 27th March. Papers and proposals on the following topics are especially welcomed:

  • Housing
  • The health system
  • Income inequality and poverty
  • International corporation tax reform
  • Competitiveness
  • The Future of EU and UK relations

All submissions will be treated fairly but cannot be guaranteed to be accepted for inclusion.
Barra Roantree (Economic and Social Research Institute), on behalf of the DEW Committee


Low Pay Commission Research Bursaries

The Low Pay Commission of Ireland is seeking applications for two Research Bursaries of €25,000 each. The purpose of these bursaries is to provide more knowledge and information in relation to low pay and labour market economics in Ireland. More information is available here and is summarised below.

  • Applicants must be either full-time researchers or Ph.D students with a supervisor with expertise in the relevant area.
  • Research proposals must be on topics related to low pay in Ireland or related topics where the research would have a bearing on the issues which the Commission is obliged to consider in its terms of reference (available at the link).
  • The recipient of the bursary would commit to producing a substantial piece of research, completed with a year of 27th March 2020 (the date at which approvals will be known), which should be of a standard that it could be publishable in a good peer reviewed social science or economic journal. The recipient would be expected to provide a progress report on the work within 6 months and to supply a finished research paper which would be presented in a public seminar within a year of receiving the bursary.
  • While the research bursaries will be for one year, we are hopeful that this scheme will run in future years. If this is so, researchers who are engaged in projects that last longer than a year will be free to reapply for continuing funding.

Applicants should send a completed application form (available at the link) as well as a C.V to by 28th February 2020. (Ph.D student applicants should also send their supervisor’s CV, as well as a letter from their supervisor supporting their application, confirming that they are supervising the applicant and outlining how the project would be supervised over the period of the bursary.)


Irish Economic Association Annual Conference 2020

A message on behalf of my Trinity Economics colleagues, Carol, Davide and Michael, who are organising this year’s Irish Economics Association conference [RL]

The 34th Annual Irish Economic Association Conference will be held in Trinity College Dublin on Thursday, May 7th and Friday, May 8th, 2020.

The keynote speakers will be Prof. Hélène Rey, Professor of Economics at the London Business School, and Prof. Ulrike Malmendier, Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Association invites submissions of papers to be considered for the conference programme. Preference will be given to submissions that include a full paper. Papers may be on any area in Economics, Finance and Econometrics.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 14th of February 2020 and submissions can be made through this site. Kindly note that there will be no extension to this deadline this year.

More information is available at the website:


RES Symposium of Junior Researchers

The Royal Economic Society is hosting its 6th Symposium of Junior Researchers on 9th April, 2020 at Queen’s University Belfast – see It may be of interest to PhD students, PostDocs, etc. Deadline for submissions is fast approaching: Jan 27th.


Criticism and praise in the run up to the 2020 General Election

2020 will see an election held in Ireland. By all accounts the election is imminent. The 2020 election will be fought, as all elections are, on the basis of promises. That part of the electorate who show up to the polling stations gets to decide the next government, and it will do so partly on how much credibility it chooses to attach to the promises of the various parties. 

The electorate will also make its decision in a markedly different macroeconomic context to 2011, and even to 2016. Given where the current government started from, the macroeconomic situation could not really be much better.

The number of people in employment has never been higher. Inflation is relatively low, growth in incomes is a feature of many workers’ experiences, personal consumption is up, house prices seem to be finally moderating, and the government is spending the proceeds of a taxation exercise that has actually doubled in under a decade. The state’s spending on current, capital, and pay has rarely been higher in any category. The latest figures from the Department of Finance show the government choosing to move quickly towards a surplus, while clearly showing their understanding of the risk to corporation tax revenue arising from changes at the EU and OECD levels coming down the line. Bullet point 4 of the press release, which is repeated elsewhere in the latest Finance discussions, is particularly interesting. It simply says:

Implementation of OECD BEPS initiative will likely result in a decline in corporation taxation receipts, making the need to account for reduced revenue essential. 

Department of Finance

An electorate looking only at the macro aggregates would most likely return some version of the current government, or another coalition version with an almost identical policy mix. So why doesn’t the government get some measure of praise for its handling of the economy? Paschal Donohoe and his colleagues have chosen to tighten before an election. To call that rare is an understatement. 

Over on Twitter, IBEC’s Gerard Brady posed the question below, and the echo chamber podcast posed it as well. Obviously these polls aren’t statistically significant, twitter is not reality, and it is just a small indicator, but it’s roughly what you’d expect at the higher end. The likelihood of the government getting a fair crack of the whip for its work seems relatively low.

One might argue that fiscal tightening like this is mere posturing ahead of an election, but the fact is that the opposite behaviour—spending like it was going out of fashion–would be far more advantageous electorally. Also, fiscal tightening is behaviour economists would praise any finance minister for at this point in an economic cycle, absent an electoral contest. 

There is a curious lack of symmetry in the public commentary on the economy between praise and criticism, and this is something I’d like to remedy. 

Let’s be real about it: the 2016 election showed voters don’t really connect with positive macroeconomic measures like GDP (or its newer cousin GNI*) the way readers of this blog might. Issues at a more micro level dominate, and that is completely fair.

It is also fair to say macroeconomic figures obviously matter. How much they matter, the credit working on getting the macro issues right, to the public is a testable hypothesis, and the election might well provide us the answer.

Naysayers can, will, and should point to the plethora of cock ups and plain old policy failures that have happened since 2016. Lord knows I have, in the pages of the Sunday Business Post and now The Currency. The health and housing situations have not improved at the speed the public want them to. Some large capital spending projects have been poorly executed. All of those are true, all are important. The country’s emergency rooms are bursting. Homelessness remains a scandal. It is not for me to defend the government’s record on these matters. I’m not a strategist for them, or for any other party. 

I would however like us to acknowledge that spending more on housing, health, or education or at a faster rate would imply more deficit spending, and further endanger the economy at a moment when the risks from corporation tax falling off a cliff are high, not to mention Brexit and a host of other macro risks might take a chunk of our growth with them, should they come to pass. In this context, choosing not to do some things and to focus on attaining some class of a surplus should be praised. And it is not. I have a problem with that.

Anyone wanting credibility in the forthcoming election should be prepared to talk about the trade-offs inherent in governing an economy like ours, and justify their choices. The trade-off doesn’t quite boil down to “invest by borrowing and spending on infrastructure to increase quality of life” vs “prepare for future shocks by driving increased budget surpluses”, but it’s not far off. Whichever vision the electorate plumbs for is fine, but the trade-off has to be explicit. Journalists and commentators should be prepared to call out parties advocating vast spending increases and lowering taxes just to attain high office. I want to believe we live in a country where endlessly repeated stupid three-word slogans and unsustainable fiscal phantasies have no place. 

Musgrave’s 1959 framework applies to the Irish economy. It says that any government must make sure its finances are in reasonable shape, have some view towards resource allocation, and have a stance on resource redistribution. Undeniably, the first objective has been met. The resource allocation and resource distribution pieces seem to me to be where the arguments are going to be during the next general election. Here again the parties of government can make their arguments for themselves. 

I’m all for robust criticism where it is warranted, but I think where praise is justified, it should be given.


Low Pay Commission Research Bursaries

The Irish Low Pay Commission is currently seeking applications for two Research Bursaries of €25,000 each. The purpose of these bursaries is to provide the Commission with more evidence and research in the areas of low pay and the Irish labour market.

Applicants must be full-time researchers with a proven track record in producing high quality peer reviewed research, or PhD students who are enrolled in a PhD programme.

For further information on the bursary and the requirements please see

Applicants will be requested to send their completed application, form as well as a C.V to by the 28th February 2020.

the application form is available at the links above and is fairly straightforward


Review of Irish Government Tax Forecasting

The Department of Finance has published a detailed review of its approach to tax forecasting, its first such review since 2008. These are periodic exercises undertaken to assess the methodology and accuracy of forecasts. Especially in the context of on-going debate about the sustainability of various tax headings, it will no doubt be relevant for those with an interest in public policy, macroeconomics, forecasting and tax.


50th Anniversary Edition of The Economic and Social Review

The Winter 2019 edition of the Economic and Social Review celebrates the 50th anniversary of the journal with a great mix papers, looking back at topics featured regularly over the journal’s history and coming right up to present day debates in economic and social policy. Hope you all enjoy the examples of past contributions and evidence on continued vibrancy of the journal.

Introduction to the 50th Anniversary Edition of The Economic and Social Review

by Martina Lawless, Managing Editor

Contributing to Macro-Economic Policy in Ireland 

by John FitzGerald

Fifty Years a-Growing: Economic History and Demography in The Economic and Social Review

by Cormac Ó Gráda

The Economic and Social Review at 50: A Review Article on Fiscal Policy Papers

by David Madden

Health in the ESR: Observations and Reflections

by John Cullinan

Ireland’s Gender Wage Gap, Past and Present

by Aedín Doris

From Income Poverty to Multidimensional Quality of Life

by Christopher T. Whelan, Dorothy Watson, Bertrand Maître

Export Structure, FDI and the Rapidity of Ireland’s Recovery from Crisis

by Frank Barry and Adele Bergin

The Euro at 20: Successes, Problems, Progress and Threats

by Karl Whelan

South-North Trade in Ireland: Gravity and Firms from the Good Friday Agreement to Brexit

by Martina Lawless, J. Peter Neary and Zuzanna Studnicka

The Digital Learning Movement: How Should Irish Schools Respond?

by Ann Marcus-Quinn, Tríona Hourigan and Selina McCoy


Modelling Recent Developments in Corporation Tax

For those interested in fiscal issues and tax modelling/forecasting, two economists in the Department of Finance, Gerard McGuinness and Diarmaid Smyth, have just published a working paper looking at Corporation Tax.

The paper uses both micro- and macro-economic perspectives and focuses on the marked rise in CT receipts and corporate profitability since 2014 is highlighted.

The paper is available from this link.


Women@Econ Event

The women@econ program at UCD School of Economics is an initiative aimed at increasing the number of females studying economics and pursuing it as a career through a series of career and networking events.

The first event is a panel Q&A session with speakers from government, industry, and academia and takes place on Thursday 21 Nov 6-8pm at Newman Theatre R. All welcome, register here.

List of speakers:

  • Elena Mazza (Economist at the Central Bank of Ireland)
  • Martina Lawless (Associate Research Professor at ESRI)
  • Deirdre Coy (PhD Candidate at UCD School of Economics)
  • Claire Doyle (Economist in the Parliamentary Budget Office, Houses of the Oireachtas)
  • Kajsa Svensson (Qualified Accountant at Western Union)
  • Maria Krump (Global Safety Investigator at Facebook)

Aviation conferences in Vienna, Nov 6th-8th 2019

Aviation Pricing: Issues and Innovations for Airlines, Airports and ATC.

The European Aviation Conference (EAC) 2019 takes place in Vienna this avyear. Complete details including booking engine on conference website EAC takes place on Thurs-Fri 6th-7th November.

This year, the EAC is preceded by the first meeting of a new organisation: the Aviation Management and Economics Conference (AMEC) conference, also in Vienna, on Wednesday November 5th. Programme here.

These meetings will  be of interest to those with an interest in aviation, whether from an academic or business viewpoint.

Booking your Place

If these questions are relevant to your work, then register for EAC 2019 at the conference website:

Further information on the EAC below the break. 


ESRI post-Budget briefing

An assessment of the likely economic effects and impact on households of any tax and welfare changes made in Budget 2020 will be presented by Karina Doorley and Barra Roantree on Friday, 11th October at the ESRI. Anyone interested in attending can find further information and registration details here.


Economic and Social Review – Autumn 2019

The latest issue of the Economic and Social Review is now available here.

This edition contains the following papers:

Examining the volatility of Ireland’s tax base in the paradigm of modern portfolio theory

Keith Fitzgerald and Jacopo Bedogni

Partnership dissolution after childbirth in Ireland: on the importance of pregnancy intentions

Thorsten Schneider

Irish attitudes to Muslim immigrants

Éamonn Fahey, Frances McGinnity and Raffale Grotti

Policy Section Articles:

Europe in transition: the future place of the environment in the European Union

Finbarr Brereton and Eoin O’Neill

Have Irish sovereign bonds decoupled from the Euro Area periphery, and why?

David Cronin, Peter Dunne and Kieran McQuinn

Evaluating Post-Leaving Certificate provision in Ireland

Seamus McGuinness, Adele Bergin, Elish Kelly, Selina McCoy, Emer Smyth and Adele Whelan

Estimating, and interpreting, retirement income replacement rates

Sanna Nivakoski and Alan Barrett


Irish Economics Podcast

Dr. Niall Farrell has started a really interesting project looking at Irish economics and Ireland’s economists. The first two episodes have been recorded and are available to listen to below.


Interesting new research on SME credit access

A new paper by Central Bank economist John McQuinn published on Friday looks at how financing of small and medium enterprises varies across countries and finds that the long shadow of the financial crisis still seems to be having an effect on the ability of some small firms to access bank credit even when their measurable performance would seem to qualify.

Figure 5 on page 20 might be the most interesting for an Irish audience – showing continuing tighter credit here than elsewhere after controlling for a whole range of firm and bank factors.


Economic and Social History Society of Ireland Annual Conference 2019

Economic and Social History Society of Ireland Annual Conference 2019

University College Cork, 6 and 7 December 2019


Proposals for papers, or for panels of papers, are solicited for the Annual Conference of the Economic and Social History Society of Ireland, which will be held at University College Cork, on Friday 6 December and Saturday 7 December 2019. The conference is jointly organised by the Department of Economics and the School of History.

Paper proposals relating to all aspects of economic and social history will be considered.

The conference will be held in the former Cork Savings Bank branch on Lapp’s Quay in the heart of Cork City. This landmark building was constructed in 1842 and has recently been restored for the Cork University Business School.

This year’s Connell Lecture will be delivered by Morgan Kelly, Professor of Economics at University College Dublin.

Abstracts of papers and proposals for panels should be sent to Dr Eoin McLaughlin ( by Friday 4 October 2019.

Abstracts should be between 250 and 300 words. Panel proposals should include a session title, contact details for all speakers and abstracts for all papers to be included in the session.

For more information about the society, please visit our website:


DEW 2019 Conference – deadline

This year’s Dublin Economics Workshop (DEW) Economic Policy Conference, sponsored by Dublin Chamber, takes place in Clayton Whites Hotel, Wexford on 13/14h September 2019.

The programme is available at this link. All bookings can be made via the website,, with special all-in fee packages available, which include 2 nights bed & breakfast and the gala dinner on Friday. Due to the large demand for accommodation, the booking system will be closing soon, please book now to avoid disappointment.

The line-up this year includes the Cantillon Lecture by Robert Watt, Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and the William Petty address, by Dan O’Brien, Chief Economist with the IIEA. There are also sessions on the Euro at 20, on small open economies in a changing world, and Ireland’s labour market, healthcare and housing systems, as well as a session on sustainability, featuring Dermot Nolan, the Chief Executive of Ofgem.


Annual Report on Public Debt in Ireland 2019

The Department of Finance has published is third annual report on public debt, the aim of which is to provide a comprehensive analysis of public debt dynamics in Ireland. Aside from highlighting the main changes in public debt over the past year, this report introduces several new analytical pieces focusing on broader aspects of government debt, including the State’s balance sheet and several sustainability indicators. This is likely to be useful for students, as well as those with an interest in macroeconomics and the public finances.

You can find the report here.