Irish Economic Environment

Stephen Kinsella
Department of Economics,
Kemmy Business School,
University of Limerick


1 Introduction

This module will give students the tools to understand and interpret economic data about the Irish economy today. The Irish economy can be understood using the tools of Macroeconomics, the study of the overall aspects and workings of a national economy, such as income, output, and expenditure at national and international levels.  Students will be exposed to simple methods of data analysis and nontechnical readings designed to give a brief but thorough overview of the Irish economy today and its evolution through successive antecedent eras of economic decline and advance over the decades since the formation of the State.

1.1 Lecture times and Contact Details

There are 8 contact hours. Classes will meet on the 5th and 18th of December. Attendance is compulsory. Notes and presentation materials will be available before the lectures at Feel free to contact me by email to arrange an appointment.

2 Readings and Lecture Outlines

There are  two main books for the course, both of which are available in the library, their call numbers are given. Alternatively, students can click on the links  on to buy the books online. Extra readings will be available to download from the course website at

  • A rocky road : the Irish economy since the 1920s, Cormac O Gráda, Manchester University Press, 1997, (UL Library) 330.9415082/OG, or buy it at
  • The Economy of Ireland : national and sectoral policy issues, 9th ed. edited by John O'Hagan and Carol Newman, Dublin : Gill and Macmillan, 2005 (UL Library) 330.94170824/OHA or buy it here from Gill and Macmillan.

Lecture One
Historical background to the present Irish economic environment. A statistical overview of Public finances since the formation of the State. Definition of key macroeconomic variables, models, data sources, and identification of key macroeconomic data sources. Ireland and the EU, the development of the Celtic Tiger.

Readings: O'Gráda, Chapter 2, O'Hagan, Chapters, 2 and 3.
Lecture Two
Capital movement in the 1990's, inequality in Ireland over time, international migration since the formation of the State.

Readings: O'Gráda, Chapter 4, O'Hagan, Chapter 6.
Lecture Three
Labour movements in the EU, property prices in Ireland and inflation since the 1980's to the present day.

Readings:  O'Gráda, Chapter 5, O'Hagan, Chapter 10.

3  Assignment


Please answer both questions, and email your answer as a word document to by the deadline, which we will decide during lectures. (Please note, each question should be answered within a 1500 word limit.)
Question 1
Please allocate an equal amount of your essay to each part of the question.

  • Outline and discuss the factors accounting for the Celtic Tiger period in Ireland
    from 1994 to 2000.
  • What factors might explain the slow-down in 2002?
  • Comment on the prospects for continued high levels of economic growth in 2004
    and beyond.

Question 2

Ireland faces three main challenges in the present era of globalization and financial market integration-tighter economic integration with Europe and the United States vying with ever greater competition from Eurasia, increasing flows of international migration, and increasing costs of economic fundamentals like oil, gas, and rising house prices driving up inflation.

  • Define what you mean by `globalization'.
  • Explain three policies and the policy variables (such as increased taxation, etc) a proactive government might use to meet these three challenges.
  • Make sure to structure your answer to include all three challenges, defining technical terms as you go.

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