Friday 9 December 2016

Thomas Molloy: Startling truths hidden in Ireland by the numbers

Published 14/09/2011 | 05:00

ONCE a year, the Central Statistics Office publishes a very useful compendium of almost randomly assembled facts and figures about the country we live in. Taken together, these statistics on everything from car ownership and river pollution to drug offences and voting patterns create a picture of modern life that is like a mosaic.

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Like the stones and coloured glass in a old mosaic, no one fact has much meaning but taken together we can see patterns emerging that are sometimes familiar and sometimes startling.

In the ever-increasing poverty figures we see the inevitable result of the Great Recession -- but there are also reasons to be optimistic. Who would have thought we have the lowest divorce rate in the EU or that murders and rapes are declining steadily? Other figures challenge our picture of ourselves. We are, for instance, a country that talks endlessly about politics but it seems that we vote less than most other Europeans.

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