From Rags to Riches

Ireland’s economic boom

Brendan Walsh

Published: December 2000

This article explores the factors behind the Irish economic renaissance of the 1990s. These include the fiscal correction of the 1980s, the availability of an ample supply of well-educated labour, a competitive exchange rate, and the inflow of EU aid. The reintroduction of ‘social partnership’ is credited with maintaining a moderate rate of wage inflation and facilitating the exceptional growth of employment. The dominant role played by a steady inflow of high tech FDI is acknowledged. The reasons for the Irish success in attracting foreign investment and the role of industrial policy in transforming the economy are discussed. The article concludes with an appraisal of the current concern over rising inflation and fear of a hard landing.

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