Saturday 23 September 2017

Cost of living in Ireland fifth highest in EU

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Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

IRISH prices are 20pc above the EU norm despite having the lowest inflation rate since 2009.

The cost of living is the fifth-highest in Europe even though fewer people here are working and more are unemployed.

Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg all rank higher, according to a new report.

A new Central Statistics Office report Measuring Ireland’s Progress 2013 highlights how people here fare compared to other Europeans in everything from crime and punishment to health, housing, the environment and the economy.

It finds that even though we now have the third-highest number of college graduates in the EU, Irish  primary pupils have to contend with some of the biggest class sizes in Europe.

There are 24.4 pupils in an average Irish primary school class compared with just over15 in some countries, and only Britain has bigger class-sizes at 25.

However almost half of the population aged 25-34 had completed third level education which was the third highest rate in the EU, even though spending on third-level has fallen by a fifth since 2004.

The Irish population was one of the fastest-growing in the EU between 2003 and 2013 and Ireland had the highest fertility rate in the EU in 2012 at 2.01 children per woman, compared with just 1.58 in Europe.

The Irish workforce is 36pc more productive than the EU average, but we also work longer hours.

After dramatic declines during the recession, the employment rate for people of working age was 10th lowest in the EU in 2013, while unemployment was the seventh highest.

However the numbers of people working increased slightly to 66.3pc last year.

Irish people now live slightly longer than the EU average with a life expectancy of  83.2 years for women and 78.7 for men.

Spending on healthcare averaged €2,973 per person in 2013 which was up just 7pc since 2004.

The average value of a mortgage rose from €171,500 in 2004 to €270,200 in 2008 before dropping to €174,000 in 2013.

The number of Irish people at risk of poverty was 15.7pc in 2012, which was lower than average in 2013, while 7.7pc of the population was in consistent poverty, defined as not being able to afford basics such as meat every day or a second pair of shoes.

The number of murders and manslaughters fell from 89 in 2008 to 83 in 2013, with a detection rate of 82pc for these offences.

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