Economy In Ireland

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Ireland’s Economy

Reviewed by Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen is the Live and Invest Overseas Founding Publisher. She has more than 30 years of hands-on experience traveling, living, and buying property around the world.


Temple Bar district is a famous landmark in Dublin, Ireland
Adobe Stock/ Irina Schmidt

Until the 1990s, Ireland was experiencing high inflation, high poverty, high unemployment, and low economic growth.

With the help of foreign direct investment, Ireland rebounded in the next decade with a period of rapid economic growth referred to as the “Celtic Phoenix.”

Unfortunately, Ireland took a hit during the 2008 economic downturn, just like many countries around the world. However, improvements in exports have brought back certain gains.

Current Ireland Economy Details

Irelands’ current economy is built on technology, food and beverage, services, and pharmaceuticals that should remain strong contributors to Ireland’s GDP throughout the 21st century.

One of Ireland’s main natural resources is its large, open pastures that facilitate the cattle and dairy industries. Steadily increasing numbers of workers and companies from the U.K. are also expected to set up shop in Ireland as Brexit brings about changes to the way EU nations do business.

Irelandremains one of the most profitable places for U.S. corporations to do business because of itslow corporation taxof 12.5%.

Foreign-owned multinational companies contribute significantly to Ireland’s economy, making up 14 of the top 20 Irish firms (by turnover), employing 23% of the private sector labor-force, and paying 80% of the corporation tax collected in the country.

Here are some basic Ireland economic statistics:

Information TypeNotes
GDP (purchasing power parity)US$447 Billion by end of 2020
GDP per capitaIn 2020 $89,383 ranked 4th
Real annual growth rate2020 -6.8% but estimated in 2021 at 6.3%
Inflation-.2% in 2020
UnemploymentAs of October, 2020 steady at 7.3%
AgricultureIn 2020, the top products are beef and dairy products
Labor force2,440,256 in 2020
Labor force by occupation2020 statistics show services 84%, industry 11%, and agriculture 5%
IndustriesIn 2020 the top industries are pharmaceuticals, chemicals, computer hardware, software, food products, beverages and brewing, and medical devices
Natural resourcesTopping the list in 2020 are zinc, lead, natural gas, petroleum, peat, silver, and copper
ExportsThe top five exports in 2020 are Pharmaceuticals (US$53.5 billion), organic chemicals (US$35.6 billion), optical, technical, medical apparatus (US$15.2 billion), electrical machinery and equipment (US$11.7 billion), and Machinery including computers (US$9.8 billion)

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Important Information For Foreigners

Ireland offers great public transportation in the larger cities while buses and trains carry passengers around the countryside with many destinations to choose from.

Ireland is also a great launching pad to explore most of Europe and it’s one of the closest European countries to the United States and Canada.

The cost of living is higher than most of the EU, but major expenses like housing go down the further you travel from large city centers.

Fuel taxes are expensive, making up more than half the cost of a tank of gas at times. Expect to pay twice the cost you might see in the States for a gallon of gas.

It is relatively easy to open a bank account, but you need to be present in the country.

It is more difficult to buy property as a foreigner, and mortgages are not easy to find. Interest rates and other mortgage terms are not favorable in Ireland, and foreigners will have additional requirements to qualify for a loan.

Public education is free and very high quality. Parents must pay for school uniforms, lunches, and school supplies. Private education is available, but you can expect to pay more than US$10,000 per year per child.

Overall, Ireland is fairly conservative in its economy, religious practices, with a strong sense of family and community.

While it is not a low-cost option for retirement, the natural beauty and the friendly people are enticing for many.

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