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7 August 2008 Edition

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Statistics give All-Ireland profile of our country

Island living today


One island, 5,981,467 lives and a multitude of shared challenges. The fourth North-South statistical profile of the island of Ireland was published last week by the Central Statistics Office and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
The 215-page profile gives an in-depth view of social and economic life in Ireland, highlighting greater convergence between the two economies than many would have believed but some sharp differences that need common policies to tackle job creation, housing, health, education, transport and environmental policies that will ensure a better future for all households and communities on the island.

Population growth
There are nearly 6 million people living in Ireland, over 4.2 million in the 26 Counties and 1.7 million in the Six Counties. The growth in population has been more pronounced in the 26 Counties in a trend that began to diverge significantly in the early 1960s. Age percentages are similar across the island with 27% of the 26-County population under the age of 20 in 2006 compared to 28% under 20 in the Six Counties.
Population growth in the Six Counties has outstripped the South in only one decade since 1961, which was the period 1981 to 1991, while the period 1971 to 1981 there was negative population growth in the Six Counties with a 15% plus increase in the 26 Counties during this decade. In the 1991 to 2001 period population grew in both states, with the growth rate in the 26 Counties just over 9% compared to approximately 7% in the Six Counties, reflecting the higher birth rates in the 26 Counties.

House prices have risen North and South, with the average price of a house in the 26 Counties rising from €87,000 in 1996 to over €300,000 in 2006. In the Six Counties house prices have risen from an average of £65,000 in 1996 to £154,000 in 2006. Another significant change North and South has been the growth in one and two-person households, a trend that is set to continue. 50% of 26-County households had one or two persons living in them in 2006 compared to 59% in the Six Counties.
Home ownership trends are similar North and South with 73% of homes either owned or owned with a mortgage in the 26 Counties compared to 72% in the Six Counties where the percentage of dwellings rented by local authorities is at 14% double the 26-County 7% figure.
Overcrowding is an issue North and South, with between 10% and 20% households either having insufficient space or just enough for their present family size.
One of the significant differences between North and South is in the number of new homes completed. The number of new homes completed in the 26 Counties jumps from 52,602 in 2001 to 93,419 in 2006. In the Six Counties the number of new houses grows from 13,560 in 2001 to 17,965 in 2006. Interestingly the amount of social housing in both areas is similar with 5.6% of new buildings in the 26 Counties being social build in 2006 compared to 5.8% in the Six Counties. North and South the percentage of socially built dwellings has fallen since 2001.

The weekly budget
The most recent year for comparing the household budget is between 2004 and 2005 and there are significant similarities North and South in how we allocate spending. Food spending is similar, accounting for 13% of the weekly budgets in the 26 Counties compared to 12% in the Six Counties.
How that food budget is spent varies with 26-County homes spending 21% of their weekly food budget on bread rice and cereals compared to 10% in the Six Counties. However price rises have been greater in the 26 Counties where household income spent on food had risen by 11% since 1994-95 compared to 6% in the Six Counties reflecting possibly higher food prices in the South.

One of the most noticeable differences in health statistics is the number of hospital beds per 100,000 inhabitants. In the 26 Counties there were in 2006 282.5 beds per 100,000 people compared to 341.8 beds per 100,000 people in the Six Counties. Self-reported body weight shows some other differences. In the 26 Counties 16% of men and 13% of women reported themselves as obese compared to 25% of men and 23% of women in the Six Counties!

Since 2001 there has been a significant divergence in the numbers of children attending primary schools with falling numbers in the Six Counties compared to rising numbers in the 26 Counties reflecting higher birth rates and significant immigration there. However pupil teacher ratios at primary level were higher in 2006 in the 26 Counties compared to the Six Counties.
One significant difference at third level is the higher proportion of Six-County students studying part time. In 2004/05 there were 4,165 full time post graduate students in the Six Counties and 7,560 part-time post grads compared to 17,086 full time and 9,120 part-time post grads in the 26 Counties.
With so much emphasis on developing the knowledge economy, with increasing innovation and Research and Development (R&D) activity higher post grad numbers are vital. The figures unfortunately don’t deal with how many doctoral students there are in either area. In the 26 Counties 40.4% of graduating students returned to college for post graduate study in 2005/06 compared to 22.8% in the Six Counties.

Labour Market and Economy
Unemployment rates have been converging North and South until this year’s economic slump. In 2006 there were 1.947 million people working in the 26 Counties, and 725,000 in the Six Counties, that is 2.672 million people at work.
The average weekly earnings for 2006 in euros in the 26 Counties were €579 compared to €425.3 in the Six Counties, a wage differential of more than 26%. Average weekly hours worked are converging at 36.7 hours in the 26 Counties compared to 37.6 hours in the Six Counties.
In terms of economic wealth created there is a significant difference between both economies with the average Gross Value Added per person coming in for 2006 at €35,986 in the 26 Counties compared to €20,000 in the Six Counties. A lot of this difference can be explained through the massive multinational exports out of the 26 Counties, the profits from the financial services sector and higher wages.
There are 334,453 VAT registered businesses on the island, 270,663 in the 26 Counties, 63,790 in the Six Counties. Both areas have a lot to do to increase R&D levels with less than 1% of Gross Value Added spent annually on R&D in the 26 Counties compared to .55 of one percent in the Six Counties.
Finally one other sign of the changing times and growing wealth North and South is shown in car registrations. Neither BMW, Audi or Mercedes Benz made it in the top ten selling cars in 1996, but all three makes were there North and South in 2006 with 2.579 million cars on the road across the island in 2006, 1.779 million in the 26 Counties and 800,397 in the Six Counties.


 Ireland – A Statistical Profile

  • 5,981,467    Population Ireland
  • 4,239,848     Population 26 Counties 2006
  • 1,741,619    Population Six Counties 2006
  • €87,000    Average house price 26 Counties 1996
  • €300,000    Average house price 26 Counties 2006
  • £65,000    Average house price Six Counties 1996
  • £154,000    Average house price Six Counties 2006
  • 73%    Percentage of homes owned: 26 Counties
  • 72%    Percentage of homes owned: Six Counties
  • 282.5     Hospital beds per 100,000 people: 26 Counties 2006
  • 341.8    Hospital beds per 100,000 people: Six Counties 2006
  • 1,947,000    People in employment: 26 Counties 2006
  • 725,000    People in employment: Six Counties 2006
  • €35,986     Annual Gross Value Added person: 26 Counties 2006
  • €20,000    Annual Gross Value Added person: Six Counties 2006
  • 334,453    Number of VAT registered business across Ireland 2006
  • 2.579 million    Total stock of cars across Ireland 2006

An Phoblacht Magazine


  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

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