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The Economy of Ireland

Module Code: EC2020

Module Title: Economy of Ireland

  • ECTS Weighting: 10
  • Semester/Term Taught: Michaelmas Term + Hilary Term
  • Contact Hours: 44 hours of lectures and approximately 8 hours of tutorials
  • Module Personnel: Lecturer - Professor Ronan Lyons / Lecturer - Professor Francis O’Toole

Module Learning Aims

This module aims to:

  • provide those with a fundamental level of economics (e.g. EC1010 or equivalent) with an understanding of the Irish economy and public policy-making; 
  • show how various pressures and policies have shaped the development of the Irish economy over time;
  • economically interpret and evaluate public policy-making in Ireland and elsewhere; and,
  • facilitate the use of clear and concise English that is required for understanding economics and policy-making.

Module Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • identify the key outcomes of interest for economic policymakers in Ireland and the primary tools used to achieve those outcomes;
  • highlight the main developments in Irish economic history;
  • outline the lessons to be learned by policymakers from past episodes of Irish economic development;
  • interpret and analyse public/social policy phenomena in Ireland and elsewhere; and,
  • evaluate public policy-making in Ireland and elsewhere.

Module Content

The first half of the module (Michaelmas Term) focuses on how various pressures and policies have shaped the development of the Irish economy over time. This will be achieved by connecting the forces at work that influence the Irish economy, from local to global, and the options available to policymakers to the outcomes of interest. Policy options include fiscal, monetary/macro-prudential and trade-related policies, while the “success metrics” of relevance to Irish policymakers include income, population, employment, inequality and prices.

The issue of market provision and/or state provision provides a central and recurring theme in the second half of this module (Hilary Term). Within each policy area covered, the module investigates market failure and government failure, via for example consideration of externalities, informational problems and an examination of the public choice perspective. Specific topics expected to be covered include: inequality; regulation (e.g. “nudging”); taxation; housing (e.g. rent control); education; health; and, competition policy.


Michaelmas Term:

  • Objectives and Outcomes – income, population and other success metrics.
  • Policies and Pressures – fiscal, monetary and trade policies; climate, technology and other forces affecting Irish development.
  • Ireland Until Independence – the long 17th Century; Union & the Corn Law; the Great Famine and mass migration.
  • Ireland Before the EU – autarky; the switch to openness and FDI; joining the EEC.
  • Modern Economic History – the Celtic Tiger; financialisation and the crash; recent growth.

Hilary Term:

  • Resource allocation, market failures, regulation and nudging.
  • Taxation, efficiency and inequality.
  • Education.
  • Health.
  • Housing.
  • Pensions.

Recommended Reading List

For both terms, O’Hagan & Newman (eds) The Economy of Ireland: National and Sectoral Policy Issues (12th edition; Gill and Macmillan, Dublin August 2014) will be the primary textbook. In addition, for Michaelmas Term, the following two texts will be very useful:

  • Cormac Ó Gráda, Ireland: A New Economic History, 1780-1939 (Clarendon, 1995)
  • Bielenberg & Ryan, An Economic History of Ireland since Independence (Routledge, 2013)

For Hilary Term, the following books will provide useful background (but not essential) reading:

  • Le Grand, J., Propper C. and S. Smith, The Economics of Social Problems, 4th Edition, palgrave macmillan, 2008.
  • Sandel, M., What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, Penguin Books, 2012.
  • Thaler, R., and C. Sunstein, Nudge, Penguin Books, 2009.

Other references will be supplied during lectures.

Module Pre-Requisite

Introduction to Economics (e.g. EC1010 or equivalent).

Assessment Details

It is envisaged that the allocation of assessment marks will be as follows:

  • 10% for a multiple-choice question test taken in week 8 of Michaelmas Term;
  • 15% for a group project due at the end of Michaelmas Term;
  • 25% for a mid-term test to be taken in week 8 of Hilary Term; and,
  • 50% for the final examination.

Module Website

Blackboard.