Book/Report Chapter

Ireland: Inequality and Its Impacts in Boom and Bust

April 1, 2014

Brian Nolan (Ed.), Changing Inequalities and Societal Impacts in Rich Countries: Thirty Countries' Experiences

The remarkable macroeconomic fluctuations Ireland experienced since the 1980s make it a particularly interesting case to study inequality and its impacts. Prolonged stagnation was followed by rapid economic growth during the "Celtic Tiger" period, and the onset of the economic crisis brought exceptionally deep recession. Levels of material deprivation moved broadly in line with average income, inequalities in health and access to health services remained deep-seated, housing played a central role in boom and bust, levels of overall life satisfaction have been relatively stable, and social class position remains strongly associated with educational qualifications despite the major expansion in tertiary education. There has been a dramatic collapse in levels of trust in government and the political system in the aftermath of the economic crisis, and while unprecedented economic contraction and austerity has so far provoked little social conflict, maintaining social cohesion and political legitimacy constitutes a formidable challenge.