Labour Market Measures in Ireland 2008–13: The Crisis and Beyond

The period leading up to 2008 was one of rapid growth in the Irish economy. After a long period of low growth, high unemployment and the accumulation of large public debts throughout the late seventies up to the mid-eighties, there was a sustained period of high growth from the late eighties until 2007, with average growth rates of over 6 per cent in this period. This is often referred to as the period of the “Celtic Tiger”. Honohan and Walsh (2002) provide a good discussion of some of the main factors thought to be the causes of this boom and suggest that it can be seen as a period of catch-up as the Irish economy recovered from low growth rates associated with poor policy decisions and benefited from a set of other favourable factors. Some of these factors are: access to the single European market, an improvement in the industrial relations climate, favourable conditions for attracting inward foreign direct investment and an improved fiscal position. While Honohan and Walsh (2002) expected a slowdown in growth in the new millennium as the Irish economy converged towards full employment and levels of output per head close to those of its European neighbours, the period from 2000 to 2007 was one of continued economic growth. The nature of growth in this period meant that the Irish economy was particularly exposed to the 2008 financial crisis.