OECD Economics Department Working Papers

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Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.


Structural Reforms to Reduce Unemployment and Restore Competitiveness in Ireland You or your institution have access to this content

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Álvaro Pina1
Author Affiliations
  • 1: OECD, France

02 Dec 2011
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After a recession of historic proportions, an export-led recovery is gaining traction in Ireland. The pace of recovery, however, varies sharply across sectors. While export-oriented manufacturing and services, led by large multinationals, have reached record-high levels of output, inward-oriented sectors, where Irish-owned SMEs predominate, are by and large still struggling to emerge from the crisis. Reflecting the weakness of this traditional sector, which is labour intensive, unemployment rates remain very high, particularly among young men with low or intermediate qualifications, often formerly employed in the construction sector.

To tackle high and persistent unemployment and thus stave off social exclusion, Ireland needs to further pursue an integrated three-pillar strategy: welfare reform to ensure that work pays; better activation policies to assist labour reallocation across sectors; and a sustained restraint in wages and other business costs to restore international competitiveness. In particular, often building on recent policy initiatives or commitments, this paper recommends reforms to further enhance product-market competition, improve innovation efforts and ameliorate the quality of education, which are key to economic prosperity.

This Working Paper relates to the 2011 OECD Economic Survey of Ireland (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/ireland).

R&D, competitiveness, constant market share analysis, Ireland, technology transfer, education, unemployment, labour costs, activation policies, welfare system, electricity, international trade, competition
JEL Classification:
  • F10: International Economics / Trade / General
  • F40: International Economics / Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance / General
  • I28: Health, Education, and Welfare / Education and Research Institutions / Government Policy
  • I38: Health, Education, and Welfare / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty / Government Policy ; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
  • J52: Labor and Demographic Economics / Labor–Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining / Dispute Resolution: Strikes, Arbitration, and Mediation ; Collective Bargaining
  • J64: Labor and Demographic Economics / Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers / Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
  • J68: Labor and Demographic Economics / Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers / Public Policy
  • L40: Industrial Organization / Antitrust Issues and Policies / General
  • L94: Industrial Organization / Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities / Electric Utilities
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