Jun 29

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

Ireland the Second Richest Country in Europe

Thomas Friedman in the NYT: "Here's something you probably didn't know: Ireland today is the richest country in the European Union after Luxembourg. Yes, the country that for hundreds of years was best known for emigration, tragic poets, famines, civil wars and leprechauns today has a per capita G.D.P. higher than that of Germany, France and Britain. How Ireland went from the sick man of Europe to the rich man in less than a generation is an amazing story. It tells you a lot about Europe today: all the innovation is happening on the periphery by those countries embracing globalization in their own ways - Ireland, Britain, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe - while those following the French-German social model are suffering high unemployment and low growth." (Thanks to Arwen for the link.)

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Comments: 22

  Sean Gilligan [06.29.05 05:47 PM]

This must be a typo: "Last year, Ireland got more foreign direct investment from America than from China." Shouldn't the "from China be changed to "China" giving: "Last year, Ireland got more foreign direct investment from America than China."?
(Why can't I post comments on the NYT site...)

  Kevin Farnham [06.29.05 05:47 PM]

So, does this mean that literary innovation and genius (James Joyce and W.B. Yeats from 1890 through 1939) can lead to economic success a century later? Surely the Irish led English literature a century ago. Now they lead Europe economically!

  conrad [06.29.05 07:35 PM]

The number Friedman uses to justify the word "richest" is per capita GDP, which begs the question: who is getting this money, and who is rich?

  Bernie Goldbach [06.30.05 12:55 AM]

This story has been making its rounds in one form or another on the back of European Central Bank findings, Economist articles and OECD research. The stats cited by the NYT were batted around here in Ireland for the past year and have led to pundits citing the gap between high-earners and unemployed. In 21st century Ireland, poverty is no longer an absolute concept. It's all relative.

One thing is for sure--Ireland is richer today than when I landed here 11 years ago. Society is much more inclusive than when my great-grandparents emigrated 106 years ago. And everything is a lot more expensive, thanks to 21% sales tax and 25% vehicle registration tax on top of the sales tax. But the people, landscape, architecture, and nightlife have given itinerant Americans like me reasons to stay.

  Martin McDonald [06.30.05 01:44 AM]

I'm not so sure Europe, or at least the European Union, is so easy to understand. This article seems typical of a US tendency to simplify Europe as though it were pretty much like the US.

It's such a simple thing that it gets forgotten, but language plays a huge role in Europe. The European regions (Scandinavia and the British Isles at least)mentioned in this article are the ones that will most happily use English. Because of the language barrier, how well do English speakers really understand what the French and Germans are really trying to do, and what successes they are having?

It's surely also worth remembering that the enlightend European Union policy of regional aid, in which rich countries like Germany, France and Britain have provided huge amounts of investment money for poorer European countries has certainly contributed to Ireland's success.

  Paddy O'Verseas [06.30.05 01:49 AM]

Our own Taoiseach, Berty Ahern, knows that we owe the EU donor countries a huge debt of honour:

"A turning point for the Irish economy was our accession to the EU in 1973. EU membership has underpinned our economic development.It means we are actively involved in discussions and decision-making, at the European level, on issues that fundamentally affect our interests and our future. It provides access to the Single European Market. It has brought generous financial support from our EU partners through regional development, cohesion and social funds. It has supported the development of a vibrant rural economy. It has provided political and financial support for conflict resolution in Northern Ireland"


"In Irelands case, the EU provided financial support for national development plans elaborated by the Government with inputs from civil society. This support amounted to 1.5% of GDP in the years 1989 to 2000. The implementation of these plans, and the effective use of the EU resources, required good governance, strong public expenditure management and an effective public sector. The funds Ireland received ultimately came from the taxpayers in other EU Member States. They were channelled to Ireland through one single institution, the European Commission."

We should be thankful to the largest donor states such as France and Germany as our gain is their loss.

  Ed Campbell [06.30.05 06:09 AM]

Folks keep thinking about China in whatever terms they learned 10 or 20 years ago. Sean, even if you examined China's economy a year or two ago, you'd be seriously out-of-date, today.

Just in the past year, the government has adopted intellectual property laws -- and started serious enforcement. And "serious enforcement" in China -- is serious. There was a conscious decision made that the nation has a strong enough economic base to begin EXPORTING capital. The initial commitment is $50 billion/year. The target for most of that capital is 3rd World or underdeveloped nations -- especially lands that have suffered through colonial and neocolonial history.

A little smarter than investing your buck$ in an oil crusade.

I'm starting to wander back into contemporary Chinese history just to learn how they reached the obviously successful decisions they have. But, even catching a few programs on CCTV9, here, on satellite TV, drops a couple new revelations, every week.

  Ed Campbell [06.30.05 06:16 AM]

Paddy -- small semantic disagreement. Your tagline is striking; but, not really true. That's the point behind any collective national agreements.

Benefits to one nation, ultimately, benefit all nations.

I've lived in donor states. I live in a net receiver state, for the past couple of decades. I probably hear more complaints about the process, here in New Mexico, than I ever did in New England. Probably because the dispensing of those tax dollars gets to filter through crooks like Congress and the White House -- instead of flowing more directly.

Accruing good will ain't too bad, you know. The US used to be good at it.

  Antoin O Lachtnain [07.01.05 05:40 AM]

In Ireland, we hear a lot about the choice between the Boston and Berlin ways of doing things. Part of the reason Ireland has succeeded (there are other important factors like education and the age profile) is that we have somehow found a Third Way.

  Fred Mueller [07.05.05 11:00 AM]

I'm a German and I've been visiting Ireland twice last year. I was very impressed with what the Irish have accomplished. During the last 15 Years, they managed to fundamentally transform their society. They seem to have used the EU support wisely. As to the original poster's suggestion that German social and economic policies have somehow failed. Well, they have been working very well since WW2 - until reunification came along. I am not sure that the US would do much better if it had to integrate, let's say: Mexico and had to bring the whole country's social system plus infrastructure and all the rest up to "first world" standards within 10 years.

  Bjørn Magnus Mathisen [07.11.05 01:52 AM]

you should say European Union, not europe as whole, cause then ireland would be below switzerland and norway :)

dont you just love it, when americans think EU = europe.

  Maurice Aherne [10.01.05 07:26 AM]

Re: The ‘Celtic Tiger’.

I always regarded this 'title' as an odd misnomer. The appellation of ‘Irish Wolfhound’ (that most dignified and upright breed of canine presence) while apt; convinces me that the ‘term’ would be totally inappropriate. But I digress.

Many derogatory remarks are made in the light Irish economic success. It is due to prudent government and an educated workforce and not to handouts as every UK tabloid would have itÂ’s citizens believe.

Even David Dimbleby on QT BBC last week was not immune to this viewpoint Perhaps he thinks that global IT companies base themselves in Ireland because they like the ‘craic’. Or that 40% of IT software within Europe is manufactured in Ireland because the ‘Oirish’ drink Guinness. Ought I be surprised?

Can I enlighten those who do retain these notions. EU pays less than one tenth on any project. Typically we (Irish) naively erect blue Euro signs saying that EC paid for it all. This is not the case! Of course there is silence when Wales is restructured and rebuilt with EU finances. Similarly for parts of Scotland; and yes!even England(qv Olympic site as one example). LetÂ’s be fair and have the full story about EU funds etc NB. OCED data --- The largest per capita donations to charity comes from Ireland.

  Mack E. Canipe [10.18.05 03:31 PM]

It is no surprise that UK tabloids chalk up Ireland's economic success to EU handouts, for the UK, and England in particular, have arrogantly looked down for centuries on Ireland as an inferior and ignorant provincial people while they (the English) misruled the island during that time. No, the UK tabloids are not naive,...just jealous!

  Myles Ryan [12.21.05 03:56 PM]

As a native Irish I'm of course pleased with the great strides Ireland has made over the past decade or so. However, Ireland has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the developed world. In a prosperous country this is inexcusable.

  Alastair [02.22.06 07:25 AM]

What I find hilarious about all of this is the way in which the British are simply unable to handle Ireland's economic success. I, myself am English, and last night logged on to the CIA global website which lists the Purchasing Power Parity for every country in the world. Ireland's was higher than the UK - way higher. In fact, it was higher than every country in Europe except Luxembourg. It was also ranked higher than Japan, supposedly the 'second-largest economy in the world'.

For so long we Brits ruled this region and now have been totally usurped by the people our 'forefathers' abused and discriminated against. F*** the Edwina Curries and the Jonathan Dimblebeys of this world: failed politicians, second-rate losers, hacks, whores and BBC dross. Ireland is massively rich and it deserves to be massively rich. Its success is down to the drive and tenacity of the people: the same reasons they were running America within eighty years of arriving there with nothing. Good luck to the the Emerald Isle!

An envious (though admiring - and still proud!) Englishman.

  Gerard Haughey [03.15.06 01:49 AM]

yes it's true. Another statistic is that migrants are reversing their plane tickets back to Ireland in the face of there being more jobs or at least more jobs with a chance of actually getting, back home in the green pastures of Ireland.. Where Saints roam the hills and good laughs echo over the valleys to the lovely Irish sounds of jig music!

Erin go' bra
Happy St. Pat's Day
God Bless Ireland.

Gerard Haughey
New Rochelle,NY

  Paul [07.12.06 09:16 AM]

Bank of Ireland report Jun 06 - Ireland is the second wealthiest country after Japan with every person, man, womand and child worth €150,000 and 100,000 millionaries out of a population of 4 million, and incidentally growing rapidly. In Dublin youre more likely to find a Polish, Latvian, French or English accent than an Irish one!

Wealth is defined as the total worth of the countries assets as opposed to the normal GDP.

  Michael Luchiano [03.22.07 01:16 PM]


  Stephen [04.17.07 11:09 PM]

Michael Luchiano : "ITALY IS BETTER"

It's thinking and rants like this, which help us be best of an average lot.

  Shane Dempsey [04.28.07 03:55 AM]

Alastair: Your words are very much appreciated. There have been far too much negativity emanating from Ireland's nearest neighbour (I mean UK not Wales) about our recent economic success. They generally come about from a complete ignorance of Ireland and its people and pander to right wing elements in the UK. It's shameful.

Ireland was never a colonial power with the wealth that goes with it and our infrastructure was neglected for many years. During the 80s we realised that education, a good telecommunications network and tax incentives could be used to make us attractive to foreign investors. The formula has been refined over the past few years leading to indigenous wealth that was inconceivable during the 80s. Ignore official figures about Ireland's wealthiest individuals. Unofficial comments from a leading Irish wealth management groups suggests that we may have up to 30 billionaires (generally construction related) in a population of just 4 million people. We've changed our attitude to debt due to low interest rates and greater availability. Almost everybody is having a go at property speculation, here and abroad. Sure, interest rate increase are finally affecting property prices here but the market isn't collapsing.

It's not just construction, we're one of the biggest centres for hedge fund administration in the world (for tax reasons) & have a thriving scientific research community. Think I've done my bit to promote Ireland Inc :)

  Darwin [12.19.07 06:01 AM]

Japan is the richest and most technologically advanced nation on the planet. Ireland is economically poor, there must have been an error.

  francois [07.15.08 10:17 AM]

Hi, seems now situation has deeply changed, as Ireland is currently experiencing huge dificulties to maintain its " wealth ". Well if you reconsider carefully what Ireland achieve these last 10 years, it's a quite a bitter picture emerging as thousands of young couples have lost fortunes due to the property madness that drove the people, inflation is shocking, state of education in fact very poor, health services still deficient, and a general state of denial as most of the natives here still bury their head in the sand. Money made this country lose his mind, and his soul either. Success doesn't necessary means wealth in euro, why not a happy and stable country instead ? lack of celtic value ? let's be careful..

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