Did Ireland really have a housing bubble?

Ireland was not a story of overbuilding caused by laissez-faire policy, or an experience that defied standard economics. Ireland built very few ghost towns – housing excesses, where they occurred, were a product of government tax policy, rather than irrational markets. And supply and demand perform very well in explaining the trends.


How on earth, you might ask, has Ireland ended up with almost all parts of its policy system trying to get lots more housing built – but the key cogwheel doing its utmost to hold new housing back? The answer, ironically, is Ireland’s own policymakers falling for the myths of the last bubble. It seems that the key personnel of the OPR believe the north-west of the country built too many homes in the 2000s because of state inattention and a wayward market, rather than as the result of extraordinary state effort to bring about that outcome. Without those reliefs, there is now little risk that new homes will be built where there is no long-term need.

Here is more from Ronan Lyons at Works in Progress, volume 6.  Irish housing is for the most part very expensive today. Dublin is one of the most expensive rental markets in the world.  Here is the 2019 NYT on the housing crisis in Ireland:

Homeownership has dropped, evictions and homelessness have climbed sharply, surging demand for rental units has led to a shortage, and soaring rents are fodder for daily conversation, political campaigns and street protests.

So perhaps we should speak of the Irish housing panic of the downturn rather than the bubble of the upturn?  The full history here remains to be written.  Somehow these are episodes most commentators do not wish to revisit.


Comments for this post are closed