Make Northern Ireland Great Again

by on March 17, 2017 at 12:39 am in Books, Economics, History | Permalink

Northern Ireland of course is much smaller than the southern Republic:

The difference between north and south — in 1926, for example — was crucial, agricultural and manufacturing sectors of the economy playing very different roles in the two jurisdictions.  Almost 35 percent of the workforce in Northern Ireland were engaged in manufacturing, while under 10 percent were engaged in the nationalist Free state; nearly two-thirds of Ireland’s manufacturing employment was in the north.

That is from Richard English, Irish Freedom: The History of Nationalism in Ireland, pp.348-349.  (By the way, this is one of the best books I’ve read in months.  It is a subtle treatment of politics, history, religion, and most of all political psychology; it is especially strong on why the Unionist movement in the north never has perished and why a formal reunification of the two Irelands would be so hard to pull off.)

We also can learn that “In 1969 output per head in the [Northern] region was still around one-fifth higher than in the Republic.”  And in 1984, living standards in Northern Ireland were about 25 higher than in the south.

Today “Northern Ireland’s per capita GDP is similar to that of the Border region of Ireland which is about 38 per cent lower than the national average.”

On Twitter, I suppose that would be #MNIGA.

1 Ray Lopez March 17, 2017 at 12:48 am

Has somebody captured Tyler? Make NI Great Again…hmm MNIGA…sounds a bit controversial.

2 Thomas March 17, 2017 at 12:55 am

The United States should, like Mexico, have a barebones welfare system that leaves kids dead in the street and an immigration policy that encourages its poorest to cross wastelands to live off of the government to the north. If Canada declines to pay for 10-20% of our lowest income and most criminal citizens, we can begin an international campaign against Canadian xenophobia. Much applause will erupt from MR lefties.

3 Art Deco March 17, 2017 at 8:30 am

Mexico has a life expectancy at birth of about 77 years. Their infant mortality rate is 12 per 100,000, a rate reached in this country around about 1983.

4 Thomas March 17, 2017 at 12:55 am

We can all have walled estates if the Canadian racists will take our lowest quintile.

5 Lanigram March 17, 2017 at 11:19 am

You will NEED walled estates if they don’t.

Interesting to note, in Brazil, which has a super-sized permanent underclass, the wealthy all live in walled estates and drive bullet-proof cars. The walls are usually topped with razor wire, broken glass shards embedded in cement for the poorer rich. My middle class relatives mostly live in walled high-rise apartment buildings with guarded gates and 24×7 security. Consider it an inverse prison, where the predators are all outside the wall and the law abiding inside.

All that is proof you can make inequality and self-segregation work. The “markets in everything” include armoring cars and there are lots of “those new service-sector jobs” in personal security.

But we’re ok with that future here in the US, I suppose, because we believe, praise the lord, in free markets and personal responsibility. Orwellian ….

6 steveslr March 17, 2017 at 12:56 am

How informative are GDP stats for the Republic of Ireland?

Aren’t they inflated by Ireland’s role as a tax haven for huge Silicon Valley firms like Apple, who contrive to recognize most of their European profits in Ireland?

7 Barry Cotter March 17, 2017 at 1:39 am

They are but you can compare the Republic’s Gross National Income per capita to the North’s Gross National Product per capita. More importantly the North is quite visibly less prosperous and more of its economy is based on public employment.

8 prior_test2 March 17, 2017 at 2:43 am

God save the Queen.

9 Art Deco March 17, 2017 at 8:34 am

Witless non sequitur, as expected.

10 prior_test2 March 17, 2017 at 11:58 am

I’m guessing the connection between ‘and more of its economy is based on public employment’ and the British government as represented by its monarch, the Queen, escaped your attention. Many things do, so no real surprise.

11 alistair March 17, 2017 at 7:38 am

They are inflated, and Tyler’s numbers overstate the case. But there has been a big catch-up by the Republic in the last 3 decades as it’s economy has modernised and liberalised. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland has relatively stagnated economically; hobbled not so much by the decline of traditional industries (those were mostly gone by 1980), but by the drag of large public sector employment. Ironically, this is was product of well-meaning UK government initiatives to provide employment and stability to the region, particularly for the catholic minority, during the troubles. Other poorer regions of the UK have seen similar crowding out effects from government benevolence.

Nowadays, the standard of living for everyday folk is about the same, north or south of the border.

It will be interesting to see, post Brexit, which of the economies does better. Ireland has played a good tax competition game vis a vis it’s EU partners on corporate tax and residence, but has aroused the powerful ire of the commission and high tax states like France. Look for more on this.

12 Millian March 17, 2017 at 9:47 am

How can one say that these regions lose because of crowding out from government spending rather than industrial decline, when interest rates are set nationally and government jobs are presumably better paid? Particularly true in counties Antrim/Down where the industries were shipbuilding, textiles and food/tobacco manufacturing.

13 Art Deco March 17, 2017 at 8:32 am

You can deduct corporate profits and compare what remains, or look at comparative personal consumption statistics.

14 bmcburney March 17, 2017 at 9:07 am

Yes and “38 percent lower than [which] national average[?]”

15 Millian March 17, 2017 at 9:44 am

Sure, you should use GNI instead. The south also looks more productive than the north because it is. The income of the north substantially comes from fiscal transfers of about £5,000 per person from the rest of the UK, about 20-30% of local income. That’s because local public sector spending is about two-thirds of the local economy.

16 Art Deco March 17, 2017 at 4:10 pm

Gross disposable household income (per capita) in Ulster is 80% of the figure for England. Gross Value Added (per capita) in Ulster is 73.3% of the English figure. Net transfers account for 8.3% of gross disposable household income in Ulster, not 20-30%.

Public administration accounts for 11.5% of the gross value added in Ulster, v. 5% in England. The sum of hypetrophied public sector purchases and net transfers accounts for 15% of the gross disposable household income in Ulster.

17 Lanigram March 17, 2017 at 11:21 am

Yep. Corporate tax rate contests between nation states is a race to the bottom.

18 Larry Siegel March 19, 2017 at 2:57 am

If you take a short drive around any Republic of Ireland city, you’ll see that the standard of living is roughly on parity with that of the United States. I haven’t spent much time in Northern Ireland but I believe the data saying it’s less prosperous.

19 BReynolds March 17, 2017 at 7:33 am

#MNIGA, please.

20 ricardo March 17, 2017 at 9:38 am


21 Sean March 17, 2017 at 10:59 am

Is the history of Ireland / Northern Ireland similar to the development of Quebec and it’s French vs. English population? Prior to the Quiet Revolution the Catholic Church had significant social power over the French speaking population of Quebec and emphasized activities such as agriculture. Industrial production was dominated by the English speaking minority (and Jews).

Did the influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland suppress industrial development in similar ways that were not present in Northern Ireland at the time?

22 Lanigram March 17, 2017 at 11:26 am

No. NI was a reward to thugs for murdering the Irish. Orange became the new green and green became the new black. Think apartheid!

23 Hails March 17, 2017 at 3:09 pm

How simplistic. Sectarian murder was committed by both Irish and British-Irish communities on each other in the north. Ireland shouldn’t have been planted and the Catholic Irish shouldn’t have been discriminated against, but to insinuate only Irish Catholics were murdered is ridiculous. There was no apartheid. Many Catholics and Protestant people lived side by side and still do. Please stop spewing your hateful propaganda. By the way I’m from the north of Ireland and have a bit of an idea what I’m talking about.

24 msgkings March 17, 2017 at 12:02 pm

The Jews weren’t English speaking?

25 A.G.McDowell March 17, 2017 at 2:22 pm

The Catholic Church did not have a significant political voice in N.Ireland before the troubles – indeed one of the sparks that led to the troubles was an attempt to reproduce American Civil Rights campaigning on behalf of the Catholic minority.

There was, however, a famous speech given in Southern Ireland – see starting “The ideal Ireland that we would have, the Ireland that we dreamed of, would be the home of a people who valued material wealth only as a basis for right living, of a people who, satisfied with frugal comfort, devoted their leisure to the things of the spirit…”

Probably the most eloquent statement of appreciation for this vision of spiritual priority was the continued high level of emigration from Southern Ireland, e.g. to the UK mainland, America, Australia, etc.

26 Art Deco March 17, 2017 at 3:16 pm

Again, per capita output in Ireland grew slightly faster than that in Britain over a period of 170 years, the famine and the inter-war period excepted.

27 Art Deco March 17, 2017 at 3:09 pm

Angus Maddison estimates Ireland’s per capita product at 43% of the UK mean in 1820 (and comparable to Scandinavia), 55% of the UK mean in 1870 and 1913, 57% of the UK mean in 1921, 49% of the UK mean in 1939 and 1958, 57% of the UK mean in 1969, 63% in 1979, and 72% in 1990, and then equaling the UK mean in 2000.

28 steveslr March 17, 2017 at 6:53 pm

“Did the influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland suppress industrial development in similar ways that were not present in Northern Ireland at the time?”

The Irish Republic was for a long time not all that focused on maximizing economic development. It was more oriented toward being Irish.

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