Thought for the day

Ireland is Now Significantly Wealthier than the UK

Northern Ireland is far behind Britain

15 June 2024
Once upon a time about a century ago, Belfast was bigger than Dublin, and industrial Northern Ireland was much wealthier than the poor agricultural South. Today the roles are reversed.

Northern Ireland remains to a considerable extent dependant on handouts from London and is much poorer than prosperous Ireland. Dublin is now three times the size of Belfast and looks (unlike Belfast) like a thriving European city. Union with Britain doesn’t seem to have worked so well for Northern Island.

UK and Irish GDP per Capita growth over the past 25 years
Index: 1996 = 100
Ireland is Now Significantly Wealthier than the UK

One reason often cited for the dramatic change is the attraction of the Irish low tax regime for major US multinationals. However the UK itself is often associated with tax haven status (the Channel Islands and British Virgin Islands spring to mind, not to mention the "London Laundromat". In recent years - since 2016 - the considerable divergence in GDP per capita growth (in favour of Ireland) is more likely explained by the Brexit vote of that year, with Ireland now a more favoured route into the EU than the more isolated United Kingdom.

David McWilliams, a notable Irish economist, wrote recently: “the truth is the union with Britain has been an economic calamity for Northern Island". Looking at GDP and GDP per capita data, this summary is not easy to refute... See more data...

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