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Irish people second-richest in EU in 2021

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Research by the ESRI suggests that about 260,000 Irish homes face difficulties due to high heating bills. Stock image

Research by the ESRI suggests that about 260,000 Irish homes face difficulties due to high heating bills. Stock image

Research by the ESRI suggests that about 260,000 Irish homes face difficulties due to high heating bills. Stock image

Irish people were the second-richest in the EU in 2021, after Luxembourgers.

Figures from the bloc’s statistics agency, Eurostat, show gross domestic product (GDP) per head, in purchasing power standards, was 121pc above EU average here last year.

However, the figures are skewed by the fact that Ireland has a small population and a large number of multinationals, which are counted in the GDP figures but which don’t necessarily keep their wealth here.

The Government prefers to use modified gross national income – which strips out repatriated net profits – and modified domestic demand – which strips out volatile patent and aircraft leasing transactions – as measures of wealth and output.

“The high level of GDP per capita in Ireland can be partly explained by the presence of large multinational companies holding intellectual property,” Eurostat said today.

“The associated contract manufacturing with these assets contribute to GDP, while a large part of the income earned from this production is returned to the companies’ ultimate owners abroad.”

Luxembourg’s GDP per head was 177pc above the EU average. A large number of foreign nationals work in Luxembourg but are resident abroad, inflating its GDP data.

Denmark was third on the EU’s rich list, with GDP per capita 33pc above EU average. The Netherlands (32pc above), Sweden (23pc) and Belgium (22pc) were next on the table.

Bulgaria registered the lowest GDP per capita in the EU last year (45pc below), with Greece (35pc), Slovakia (32pc) and Croatia (30pc) next on the table.

Ireland was the only EU country that saw continued GDP growth during the pandemic, and is still one of the bloc’s fastest-growing economies.

Prices in Ireland began rising faster than the rest of the EU last year as a result of the buoyant growth, although it is now in line with EU averages.

Irish inflation was 5.7pc in February, according to the EU’s harmonised index (5.6pc according to the Irish consumer price index), while inflation in the 19-member eurozone was 5.9pc. It was 6.2pc in the 27-member EU.

Price hikes could peak at around 8.5pc in Ireland this summer, according to new forecasts by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) today. The think tank is also predicting slightly slower but still strong GDP growth of 6.2pc, while MDD is expected to grow by 5pc. 


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