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2011 OECD Economic Surveys: Ireland 2011

image of OECD Economic Surveys: Ireland 2011

OECD's  2011 Economic Survey of Ireland examiens restoring fiscal sustainability, overcoming the banking crises and structural reforms to reduce unemployment and restore competitiveness.

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Structural reforms to reduce unemployment and restore competitiveness

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 Irishowned 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 chapter recommends reforms to further enhance product-market competition, improve innovation efforts and ameliorate the quality of education, which are key to economic prosperity.

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