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Study shows we top EU birth rate -- and send a lot of texts

WE are the second-highest mobile-phone texters in the EU, spend more on transport than food, and our third-level students are among the youngest across 27 countries.

A new report from Eurostat -- the EU statistics office -- gives a snapshot of life across the member states during the worst economic upheaval in its history.

It shows that more than a fifth of our income goes on housing, we have more children than anywhere else, and our unemployment rate is one of the highest in the EU.

However, the Government is among the top spenders on policies to get people back to work and those in jobs are among the highest paid in the EU.

Average earnings in Ireland stand at €45,207 a year, while annual wages are as low as €5,891 a year in Romania and €4,085 in Bulgaria.

The earnings of full-time employees in businesses with 10 or more workers is highest in Denmark at €56,044, followed by Luxembourg, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany.

Although the lowest paid workers are in Bulgaria, there are more workers on small wage packets in Latvia than anywhere else. Almost a third of the Latvian workforce is low paid.

The data from 'Europe in Figures, the Eurostat Yearbook 2012', also shows we are spending over a fifth of our money on housing, which is just below the EU average of 24pc.

Housing accounts for the largest share of expenditure in households across the EU, with the exception of Lithuania, Malta, Portugal and Romania, where food is the biggest spend.

We spend just over 12pc of our cash on transport, which is more than we spend on food and non-alcoholic drinks, at just under 10pc.

A total of 7pc of our cash goes on recreation and culture, 13pc on restaurants and hotels, 6pc on home furnishings and 4pc on clothing and footwear.

Our British neighbours appear to be spending more on having fun, with just under 11pc of expenditure going towards recreation, and almost 6pc on clothing and footwear.

But they spend less on restaurants and hotels, which represents just under 10pc of their spending, compared with 13.5pc here. However, the data for Ireland in this case is for 2008, before the recession hit, while the UK data is from 2009.

A move away from traditional methods of communication is also evident, and we rank as the second-highest nation of mobile-phone texters in the EU.

Each person sends an average 2,677 text messages a year, just behind Lithuania, where the average person sends 2,757 texts.

This compares with an EU average of 580 texts per person, while the average Bulgarian, at the bottom of the league table, sends just 87 texts a year.

The number of people per post office here, at 3,322, is below the EU average of 3,900.

The report also reveals that we have low levels of early school leavers. And the average age of third-level students is among the lowest in the EU, at just 20 years, compared with Sweden and Denmark, where students are oldest, with an average age of 25.

Our fertility rate of two children per woman is the highest in the EU, according to the latest data, which is from 2009, just ahead of France.

Irish Independent