Click to enlarge

Ireland has well-known firms such as Guinness for beer and beverages, Ryanair for air travel, and Smurfit Kappa for paper and packaging, not to mention dairies, beef and fish. However, for a small country that has turned itself into a thriving pharmaceutical and IT hub, Ireland is not awash with global brands in these sectors. Compare with, say, Finland which has Nokia, or Sweden which has Ericsson. True, there is Airtricity, but that innovative wind energy firm now belongs to an overseas company.

Click to enlarge

Since the economic crisis, productivity growth in OECD countries has continued to slow. Labour productivity rose by 3.7% in OECD countries from 2007 to 2013, and even fell in some countries, such as the Netherlands and the UK (see graph). A Bank of France study reported in this magazine in 2014 showed an “impressive slowdown” in developed countries’ productivity growth since the start of the 2000s, and illustrates the ebbs and flows of US, euro area, Japanese, and UK productivity from 1890 to 2012.

©serprix.com

Time was when the only people who had gigs were long-haired types who stayed in bed till noon and played in bars till dawn. These days, it seems, everyone’s hopping from one gig to another–drivers, software designers, cleaners. Bye-bye full-time work, hello freedom and flexibility. Well, maybe…

©OECD

When I launched the OECD’s 2011 Economic Survey of Ireland, the Irish economy was in the depths of a deep recession. Two years ago, the clouds were beginning to clear. Today, I am delighted to see how far and how quickly the country has bounced back.

The economic and financial crisis has posed a stern test of many countries, though in Ireland, which enjoyed a boom for over a decade, the challenge was particularly stark. The scars are still there, but so are opportunities. Well-targeted, sensitive social policies can yield positive results. 

Aileen's Wave west of Ireland ©George Karbus Photography/AFP

The recession in Ireland was long and deep, but has been followed by a marked recovery. Why is the expansion in Ireland so strong?

Cathríona Hallahan, Managing Director, Microsoft Ireland ©Rights reserved

Ireland has bounced back from the crisis to become one of the OECD’s most dynamic economies. A key help has been the continued inflow of capital investment from abroad, allowing the country to bolster its position as a European hub for the likes of IT, finance, pharmaceuticals, engineering, and more. Ireland has been an attractive destination for global high-value investments for decades, yet its own innovation system lags that of other similar-sized OECD countries. Closing the gap would strengthen the country’s long-term outlook, but how can this be done?

A decade or so ago e-commerce was a buzzword, but today it has become a routine part of life. Or has it? About half of individuals in OECD countries bought products online in 2014, up from 31% in 2007. The increase in online purchases was particularly marked in Belgium, Estonia, France, the Slovak Republic and Switzerland. Today, more than three-quarters of adults order online in Denmark, Norway and the UK. However, only 10% of adults bought online in Chile and Turkey, and less than 5% in Colombia and Mexico. 

Publishing, telecommunications, the audiovisual industry and broadcasting taken together are an important source of value-added growth in OECD countries despite accounting for less than 4% of total OECD employment. This “information sector” covers a wide range of activities, from computer and optical manufacturing to communications services. 

©Michael Dean/OECD

Nothing has demonstrated Ireland’s shift to modern economic policies more concretely than our decision to become a founder member of the OECD in 1961. Since then the OECD has been a trusted partner in our economic and social policy evolution.

©André Faber

Could central bank policy be making the economy more vulnerable? A fundamental rethink is in order if worse outcomes are to be avoided.

A growing economy means increased need for office space, housing and infrastructure. Can Ireland meet that demand? 

©2010 ERSI

Open any atlas, look at any globe, and Ireland appears as a small green island on Europe’s Atlantic rim. In fact, Ireland’s territory is almost the size of Germany, and mostly blue.

©Cathal McNaughton/REUTERS

©AFP ImageForum

The recovery in the Irish economy is well underway. Determined policy responses to the fiscal, economic and financial sector challenges Ireland faced are now bearing fruit, with Ireland expected to be among the fastest-growing economies in the OECD this year and next. 

Becoming an entrepreneur has become increasingly popular since the economic meltdown of 2008, not least in Europe.

For all the signs of improving labour market conditions in many OECD countries, there is still a substantial way to go to close the jobs gap caused by the Great Recession of 2008-09. Unemployment will continue to fall in most countries, but by the end of 2017, it will still be well above pre-crisis levels in a number of them. 

He’s lifting the lid ©REUTERS/Paul Darrow

Achieving the transition to a low-carbon economy to meet the 2ºC target requires shifting investment away from carbon-intensive options and towards low-carbon, climate-resilient infrastructure assets and technology. Over US$90 trillion will be needed in the next 15 years to meet global infrastructure needs across transport, energy and water systems, irrespective of climate change, according to the Global Commission on Climate and the Economy. But as the commission estimates, making these infrastructure investments “low-carbon” will impose additional costs of only 4.5% relative to business-as-usual, with benefits such as reduced local air pollution, improved energy security and lower traffic congestion. 

©Orelie Grimaldi

Over the last century, resource extraction from non-renewable stocks has grown while extraction from renewable stocks has declined, reflecting the shift in the global economy base from agriculture to industry. 

©TUAC

A structural shift to a low-carbon economy will entail gains in jobs, but also losses, and the first jobs to be lost are not those that you think. A just energy transition will be needed, but how? 

©Reuters/Stringer

The human economy is a physical system embedded in society, which itself is embedded in a finite global ecosystem. The primary goal of the economy should be to meet basic human and social needs, now and in the future, without degrading the global ecosystem services upon which all life depends. How can this be done?

Click to enlarge. By StiK, especially for the OECD Observer

Click to enlarge. By StiK, especially for the OECD Observer

Economic recovery is holding up in the world’s advanced economies, but the outlook is unsettled due to stalling world trade and worsening financial markets particularly in major emerging economies, according to the OECD’s latest briefing on the economic outlook issued 16 September.

African Economic Outlook 2015/OECD

The financial landscape has changed considerably in Africa since 2000. Private external flows in the form of investment and remittances now drive growth in external finance, according to the African Economic Outlook 2015. Foreign investments are expected to reach US$73.5 billion in 2015, underpinned by increasing greenfield investment from China, India and South Africa.

OECD

A warming planet and a flat world economy have propelled the issue of investment in clean energy to the top of the policy agenda. The question has become all the more crucial in view of the landmark global summit on climate change to be held in Paris in December 2015. 

OECD

Since democracy was restored in 1999, Nigeria has engaged in ambitious reforms towards greater market liberalisation and economic openness. By far the most populous country of the continent–with more than 170 million people Nigeria is home to 18% of Africa’s population–it now claims to be the largest
economy in Africa, with an estimated nominal GDP of US$510 billion. Its GDP growth has never been below 5% since 2003, and since 2009, it has become the preferred destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa, ahead of South Africa.

Aly Song/Reuters

Investment has been hit hard by the crisis, yet is vital for a sustainable recovery and future well-being. In 2008-14 private investment ran at some 25% below pre-crisis forecasts. From infrastructure and green energy to improving education and health care, all countries depend on investment in physical and human capital.

David Rooney/OECD Observer

Meeting budgetary targets is hard enough in any country, but for developing countries struggling to lift their economies to a higher stage of development, it can seem a near impossible task. Nevertheless, governments and local authorities everywhere in the world have a duty to provide proper public and social services for their citizens, and infrastructure that will attract investors. Tax revenues are therefore vital for meeting public demands as well as development aspirations. As a general rule of thumb, a stable and predictable budgetary framework helps foster growth and, in the longer term, reduces dependence on foreign financing, be it public or private. Taxation is a bedrock of “good government” and a driving force for wider reforms. However, devising the right framework and approach to tax is not easy, from getting the tax levels right to ensuring skills are in place to devise and implement them.

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q1 2019 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.3% May 2019 annual
Trade: +0.4% exp, -1.2% imp, Q1 2019
Unemployment: 5.2% July 2019
Last update: 8 July 2019

OECD Observer Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Subscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To order your own paper editions,email Observer@OECD.org


Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • MCM logo
  • The following communiqué and Chair’s statement were issued at the close of the OECD Council Meeting at Ministerial level, this year presided by the Slovak Republic.
  • Food production will suffer some of the most immediate and brutal effects of climate change, with some regions of the world suffering far more than others. Only through unhindered global trade can we ensure that high-quality, nutritious food reaches those who need it most, Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD, and José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, write in their latest Project Syndicate article. Read the article here.
  • Globalisation will continue and get stronger, and how to harness it is the great challenge, says OECD Secretary-General Gurría on Bloomberg TV. Watch the interview here.
  • OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría with UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, in New York City.
  • The new OECD Observer Crossword, with Myles Mellor. Try it online!
  • Listen to the "Robots are coming for our jobs" episode of The Guardian's "Chips with Everything podcast", in which The Guardian’s economics editor, Larry Elliott, and Jeremy Wyatt, a professor of robotics and artificial intelligence at the University of Birmingham, and Jordan Erica Webber, freelance journalist, discuss the findings of the new OECD report "Automation, skills use and training". Listen here.
  • Do we really know the difference between right and wrong? Alison Taylor of BSR and Susan Hawley of Corruption Watch tell us why it matters to play by the rules. Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview here.
  • Has public decision-making been hijacked by a privileged few? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Stav Shaffir, MK (Zionist Union) Chair of the Knesset Committee on Transparency here.
  • Can a nudge help us make more ethical decisions? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Saugatto Datta, managing director at ideas42 here.
  • The fight against tax evasion is gaining further momentum as Barbados, Côte d’Ivoire, Jamaica, Malaysia, Panama and Tunisia signed the BEPS Multilateral Convention on 24 January, bringing the total number of signatories to 78. The Convention strengthens existing tax treaties and reduces opportunities for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises.
  • Globalisation’s many benefits have been unequally shared, and public policy has struggled to keep up with a rapidly-shifting world. The OECD is working alongside governments and international organisations to help improve and harness the gains while tackling the root causes of inequality, and ensuring a level playing field globally. Please watch.
  • Checking out the job situation with the OECD scoreboard of labour market performances: do you want to know how your country compares with neighbours and competitors on income levels or employment?
  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .
  • Visit the OECD Gender Data Portal. Selected indicators shedding light on gender inequalities in education, employment and entrepreneurship.

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2019