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After the party's over: The Irish employment model and the paradoxes of non-learning

James Wickham
IIIS Discussion Paper No. 367

The paper begins by drawing parallels between the recent Irish bubble and speculative booms of the settler epoch of the 19th century: it introduces the concept of the goldrush labour market.  The paper then suggests that the Irish bubble was generated by four key features of the Irish socio-economic model: the veto-power of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the financialisation of everyday life, the importance of the banking sector, and last but not least, social partnership.  The third part of the paper then outlines the changes that have occurred so far in the employment system during the crisis.  The crisis has ended the social partnership which had been seen as a distinctive feature of the Irish model: there is no attempt to recreate the crisis corporatism of the late 1980s.   Far from stimulating any re-think of the national development strategy, the crisis has turned the reliance on FDI into a national fetish and the desirability of low personal tax rates also remains part of the national political consensus.  Privatisation of pensions, education and (to some extent) health continues, while state assets are to be sold.  The jettisoning of social partnership has ensured that other features of the Irish model have been consolidated.  The Irish experience shows how, confronted by a cliff, lemmings will sometimes rush to fall over its edge.

Last updated 28 August 2014 by IIIS (Email).