The State We are In: Inequality in Ireland Today

11 January 2019

The report specifically delves into how Ireland’s inequality is different from other countries. Inequality, it is shown, is driven by the gains at the top at the expense of losses at the lower end – the share of income that the middle group is remarkably stable across countries. Where Ireland differs though is not that the poorest are unusually poor, but that groups above the bottom ten percent get a smaller share compared to our more equal European neighbours. The flipside, of course, is that the top decile do quite handsomely – the top ten and the top one percent in particular.

The report also looks at inequality in different sectors or industries. Again it is found that Ireland’s performance is weak, at least compared to other small, open economies and the UK. Across a diverse range of industries we find that pay is significantly more skewed here than it is in other countries. But there is some potential light at the end of the tunnel that might give pause for optimism. Because pay and market income inequality is so much higher here, there is significant scope for redistribution. The question then, as always, is one of political will. 

It is our hope that policymakers will take notice of the findings in this report - that there are alternatives available, alternatives that can make Ireland a more equal place. If that different path is chosen then perhaps Ireland can begin to live up to the ideal of equality for all. 

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