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Reassessing Ireland’s Economic Development through the Lens of Sustainable Development

Luke McGrath, Stephen Hynes and John McHale ()

No 309502, Working Papers from National University of Ireland, Galway, Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit

Abstract: Economic historians have examined economic development in terms of growth for decades. However, only limited research has examined historical economic development from the vantage of sustainable development. Genuine Savings (GS) has emerged as a leading economic indicator of sustainable development. This study reassesses Ireland’s economic development by analysing GS estimates that span the entire history of the Irish Free State from 1922-2017 as well as notional estimates back to 1851, just after Ireland’s “Great Famine”. The findings provide empirical support for the view that Ireland’s economic performance was held back by an archaic institutional framework that prevented a convergence to modern living standards during the European Golden Age. The results amplify the sharp contrast between pre1960s and post-1960s economic performance noted in the traditional literature on Ireland’s economic history. The study shows that Ireland might be viewed as “a land of missed opportunities” before it underwent a “great transition” driven by an improved institutional framework. Ireland’s great transition paved the way for the sharp relative welfare improvement during the Celtic Tiger period of the 1990s. Ireland offers novelty in relation to the GS literature having undergone two distinct development phases before economic convergence. The first phase from 1960-80 represented a typical weakly sustainable path. The second phase from 1987-2007 represented an Environmental Kuznets Curve type path.

Keywords: Environmental; Economics; and; Policy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 49
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.309502

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