Sunday 26 February 2017

State's role in our economic performance over past century is profound

Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

'Click to view full size graphic'
'Click to view full size graphic'

How has the economy of independent Ireland fared and what role did the State founded in 1922 have in economic performance? During a time of very extensive reflection on the past 100 years, this question has hardly been posed. It is well worth addressing.

Measuring economies, even in today's world of massive computing power, is very tricky. That is because economies are very complex systems. Measuring them in the distant past is largely guesswork. Think, for instance, of GDP. It is the most commonly used measure of how much an economy is producing and how fast it is growing, but it was not even invented until decades after the state's founding.

Nor is there much in the way of other hard indicators for the early decades of the Irish state. But of those that exist, they support the commonly held view of a nation that was very poor by today's standards. They also show that prosperity was a long time coming.

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