Against the backdrop of high COVID-19 vaccination rates, the full reopening of the economy is boosting a broad-based recovery, with GDP projected to increase by 4.8% in 2022 and 2.7% in 2023. Business conditions underpin sizeable employment gains, while household excess savings and wage increases support consumer spending. However, surging inflationary pressures, caused by disruptions in global supply chains and geopolitical concerns, will cut households’ real income and dampen consumption growth.
Improving activation and training policies is a top policy priority, as the pandemic especially affected sectors where many with weaker labour market attachment work. This can also help meet firms’ demand for skills. Reforming the tax and welfare system to remove high effective tax rates will boost participation and employment.
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2021 Structural Reform Priorities
Ireland’s living standards remain high. Growth has been strong, despite bouts of volatility. The average real wage was on par with the OECD average in the mid-1990s, but now stands more than 15% above. Furthermore, a highly redistributive tax and transfer system has contained income inequality in disposable incomes. The population also benefits from a high level of wellbeing across other dimensions. Life satisfaction is high, according with the strong economy as well as other features such as low levels of pollution, strong community engagement and high perceived personal security. Performance in education depends less on socio-economic status than in most other OECD countries. The gender wage gap is also one of the lowest in the OECD, having declined markedly over recent decades. Ireland continues to be an attractive destination for foreign direct investment, with a stable political system, a relatively-young Englishspeaking population and a supportive regulatory and tax regime. Looking forward, the country is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities presented by technological change, though there are various challenges that need to be carefully navigated.