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177th Session


The Regional Location of Indigenous and Foreign Manufacturing Establishments, 1929-1975 (Evidence from a repopulation of the Census of Industrial Production)

Professor Frank Barry, TCD, Michael Scholz, TCD

7 December 2023

Regional industrial location has been a matter of intense political interest throughout the history of the state. Details of the geographic distribution of manufacturing establishments are sparse however – particularly until close to EEC accession – as reporting of the relevant data from the Census of Industrial Production (CIP) was heavily constrained by the requirement to maintain firm-level confidentiality. Data pertaining to the location of individual industries are even scarcer. Our research identifies most of the manufacturing establishments with workforces of 100 or more in 1929 and at various dates through to 1975. Establishments of this size accounted for more than 50 per cent of the industrial employment recorded in the CIP and are of particular importance given the generally positive relationship between establishment size and average compensation. Repopulating the CIP allows us to analyse the regional distribution of industry in significantly greater detail than has been possible up to now.


Distinctive Features of the Irish Banking Crisis

Professor Patrick Honohan, TCD

26 October 2023

The paper reviews the causes, evolution and resolution of the severe property-related macro-financial boom and bust that crippled the Irish economy 2008-13. Among the distinctive features were a blanket government guarantee of banking liabilities, a run on the national banking system financed by a supranational central bank, and a sovereign-bank funding-cost doom loop. There were missteps in both the private and official sectors, at home and abroad, as the authorities felt their way towards corrective policies that were ultimately effective.

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Three Necessary Actions Prior to Launch of Ireland’s Auto-Enrolment Retirement Saving Plan

Shane Whelan, UCD, Maeve Hally, UCD

25 May 2023

The proposed Automatic Enrolment Retirement Saving (AE) Plan will fail to make a significant impact on pensions in Ireland unless three actions precede its introduction. First, we show that the existing tax reliefs for other pension arrangements are considerably more valuable than the 33% subsidy to contributions to the AE Plan for higher rate taxpayers. To create a level playing field for the new AE Plan, we recommend qualifying contribution levels be equalised and that tax relief on contributions to other pension arrangements be abolished, replaced with the common 33% subsidy. Second, a key selling point of the AE Plan is its low charges, considerably lower than individual private plans. However, low charges are not a particularly strong force shaping the pension landscape, even though such efficiencies accumulate to deliver materially higher pensions over the long term of pension savings. We recommend that selling practices of pensions are better aligned to the interests of the pension saver. This can be achieved by banning commission on pension products and by requiring illustrations of the size of the pension fund at retirement to be explicitly compared with that expected from the AE Plan. Third, the new AE Plan has the potential to solve the legacy issues that the run-off of defined benefit schemes poses to the State and to sponsoring employers. We propose that the AE Plan be open to transfers from such schemes, to help manage the contingent liability of the State and to help build a partnership in pensions with employers. Indeed, the AE Plan should be open to transfers from any existing pension arrangement, if it is in the best interest of the individual. While these three reforms will assist in preventing the failure of the AE Plan, alone they may not be sufficient to ensure its success. The introduction of the AE Plan is obviously good for pension savers but it also has the potential for disruptive change in the pension industry, which to date has been successful in resisting reform.


Symposium: Financing Sustainable Development in Ireland

Yvonne McCarthy, Central Bank of Ireland, Barra Roantree, ESRI, Joseph Cummins, DETE

20 April 2023

Symposium on Financing Sustainable Development in Ireland


An analysis of the current Leaving Certificate points system and a new Leaving Certificate points system

Danny O'Hare, DCU, Michael Ryan, DCU

23 March 2023

This paper provides a technical assessment of the current Leaving Certificate points system that shows it to have serious flaws. These include using random selection despite significant differences in student marks and giving about 20,000 students the same subject points as others who achieve 9 out of 100 fewer subject marks. An alternative system is proposed that provides a fairer merit order. This system allows valid comparison of student performances across subjects and years, is not affected by grade inflation or deflation between years, and greatly reduces the need for random selection.


Barrington Lecture: Institutional Investment in Housing: Financialisation 2.0 in the Case of Ireland

Pierce Daly, ECB and UCD

26 January 2023

This paper examines the growth of institutional housing investment in Ireland, part of a global phenomenon known as ’Financialization 2.0’. Using a unique Institutional Investment Database (IID) produced specifically for this study, I present the most granular assessment of institutional investment in Irish housing to date. While institutional investors represent an important source of capital for housing development, results suggest their role in supporting new supply is more nuanced than generally presented by industry stakeholders. Between 2012 and 2018, institutional investors primarily acquired second-hand units, with investment in new housing only dominating since 2020. Moreover, when new housing purchases by investors that receive public-financing are excluded, along with new units purchased from major Irish home-builders, the role of solely private funded investors in supporting new supply appears less significant. This highlights the need to distinguish between Irish home-builders and institutional investors in national statistics on housing supply, given fundamental differences in their business models. Separately, results present new detail on the location, type and names of this concentrated group of investors. As well as the evolving role of different investors over time. The concentration of investment in Dublin (and within specific eircodes) coupled with the growing share of institutional purchases relative to other buyers demonstrates the potential for such investment to impact house prices. Equally, their rising share of the private rental stock in Dublin suggests similar potential to impact rents. In combination, these results highlight the need for further research on benefits and costs of institutional investment. Finally, further consideration of the present housing policy frameworks may be required to more effectively direct institutional investment towards new housing development.


Symposium: Cost of Living in Ireland

Dr Edel Flannery, CSO, Dr Reamonn Lydon, Central Bank of Ireland, Dr Micheál L, Collins, UCD

8 December 2022

The Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland's (SSISI) second Ordinary Meeting of its 176th session was a symposium on "The Cost of Living in Ireland"


When worse is better: Economic policy making in the two Irelands of the mid 1950s

Dr Esmond Birnie, Ulster University, Dr Graham Brownlow, Queens

27 October 2022

"It is now about two-thirds of a century since the publication of two foundational pieces of applied economic analysis North and South of the Irish Border: K.S. Isles and Norman Cuthbert’s book (1957) An Economic Survey of Northern Ireland and T.K. Whitaker’s report Economic Development (1958). This paper compares and contrasts these two economic strategies, particularly in terms of the varying extents to which the strategy documents had an actual impact on policy and hence potentially changed economic performance. A contrast is drawn between how Whitaker was relatively successfully implemented but Isles and Cuthbert was largely ignored".

176th Session


For previous issues see the TCD Tara Archive here

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