The most recent release from Census 2016 Profile 2 – Population Distribution and Movements contains data on the age categories of the population by county. Different age groups have different needs and opportunities so this information is important for planning services for the future and understanding social and economic development issues for our region.
Population in key age categories
The key age categories for analysis are shown in Figure 1 for the Western Region, the Rest of State and for the EU28 (in 2015) along with the projected age structure for the EU 28 in 2080.
The Western Region has 21.1% of its population in the 0-14 age group (the same as the Rest of State), while 15.6% of the EU28 population is in that age category. The county with highest share of young people in its total population in 2016 was Donegal (22.0%) while the lowest were Mayo and Sligo (20.3%).
Figure 1: Population Structure by Age Group
Source: CSO, 2017, Profile 2 – Population Distribution and Movements E2022 and Eurostat (demo_pjangroup) and (proj_13npms)
The category ‘15-64 years’ covers most of the economically active population. In the Western Region the Galway has the largest proportion in this category (65.6%) but this is still lower than the average for the Rest of State (65.9%). Leitrim has the lowest proportion in this age category (61.5%).
There is significant variation among counties in the proportion of the population over 65 years, but all counties have more people in this category (between 13.6% in Galway and 17.5% in Mayo) than the Rest of State (13.0%). Counties, including those such as Mayo, Roscommon and Leitrim which we consider to have high concentrations of older people, have fewer in the older age categories than the EU 28 (18.9%) which is turn is much less than that projected for the EU 28 (28.7%) by 2080.
The population pyramid below (Figure 2) shows the age distribution for the Western Region and the Rest of State in more detail. A peak of births in 1980 shows up in the 35-39 age category, and another peak in the number of births occurred in 2009 and shows up in the 5-9 age category. The smaller numbers in both the 20-24 age category relates to a falling birth rate in that period while the lower number in the 25-29 age categories, and to some extent in the 30-34 are the result of high outward migration. The difference in proportions in these age categories for the Western Region and Rest of State indicate greater out migration from the Western Region.
Figure 2: Population Pyramind for Western Region and Rest of State, 2016
Source: CSO, 2017, Profile 2 – Population Distribution and Movements E2022
The Western Region has a higher proportion of it population than the Rest of State in each of the age categories from 45 years and upwards for females and 40 years and upwards for males. This is also the case for the 10-14 and 15-19 years categories but the more recent higher birth rate in other more rapidly growing counties (especially those surrounding Dublin) means there is a higher proportion of young children in the population in the Rest of State than the Western Region, but these differences are relatively small at the moment.
The Dependency ratio (Figure 3) shows the number of older and younger people compared to the working age population (which for this statistic is considered to be 15-64) as these are potentially the most economically active. In reality many in the 15-19 and 20-24 categories will be in education but it is a useful statistic for comparison purposes.
It is also important to be aware of the differences in population structure among regions and counties when examining economic statistics such as those for income and output. Counties a lower percentage in the economically active age groups have proportionally more dependents. They will tend to have lower per capita income and output levels even where there is no difference in productivity.
Mayo has the highest old age dependency ratio (28.3%) in the country, followed by Leitrim (27.4%) and Roscommon (26.8%) while the lowest nationally is in Kildare (15%). Galway (20.6%) and Clare (23.4%) have the lowest age dependency ratios in the Region but all Western Region counties have a higher age dependency than that for the Rest of State (19.7%).
Figure 3: Old Age, Youth and combined Dependency Ratios, 2016
Source: CSO, 2017, Profile 2 – Population Distribution and Movements E2022, own calculations
The highest youth dependency ratio in the Region is in Donegal (35.3%) and Leitrim (35.1%) but other counties with particularly high birth rates have much higher youth dependency ratios (in Meath it is 39%, Laois 38.3% and Longford 37.2%). In the Western Region the lowest is in Galway (31.8%) and Sligo (32.0%). The Western Region as a whole has a youth dependency ratio of 33.2% compared to 32.1% in the Rest of State.
Combining the youth and old age figures gives an overall dependency figure which gives the proportion of both older and younger people compared to the working age population. In the Western Region this was 57.4% while in the Rest of the State it was 51.8%. This compared to a figure of 52.6% in the EU 28 in 2015.
The Oldest People
Some of the most significant change is population structure is occurring among the ‘older old’, those in the 80+ years category, with increased longevity and ageing of the older population. In Roscommon 4.4% of the population is already in this older age category, while Leitrim (4.27%) and Mayo (4.24%) are the next highest in the state. In contrast, in Kildare only 1.91% are in this category while in Meath it is 2.21%. Some 3.7% of the WR population is over 80 (3.0% in the Rest of State). It is expected that by 2080 in the EU28 12.3% of the population will be over 80, which compares to 5.3% in the EU28 in 2015.
The percentage in the 80+ years category is rising in all counties and, while increased longevity is a significant human achievement, it can have important implications. Those in this age group can experience more poverty and social isolation and poorer health that the ‘younger old’. There is also a significant gender dimension with women having higher survivorship and a lower propensity to re-marry which means they are more likely to live alone. It is important to respond to, and plan for, the needs of this age category and to endeavour to ensure that as many years as possible are lived with as good health and quality of life as possible.
A higher proportion of the Western Region population is in the older and younger age categories than in the Rest of State, in part reflecting the outward migration of those of working age. It highlights the importance of a focus on regional employment provision as a key element of regional development policies. Improving employment prospects would benefit those currently in the youth dependent category, as well as those who are already economically active.
The higher proportion of older people in many Western Region counties means that services for older people are crucial. As much of the Region is very rural we should continue to learn from best practice elsewhere, particularly in Europe, where the ageing of the population is taking place earlier, on how to provide supports and services to an older population in rural areas.
While much of the thinking about ageing populations is on services and supports it should also be remembered that many people in this age category are likely to continue in employment and so this group would also benefit from improved employment opportunities. Currently, 4.5% of the Western Region labour force is over 65, while 13% of those in the 65+ category are in the labour force. This compares to 2.8% of the rest of State labour force over 65 and a 10% participation rate for that age category.
Understanding trends in population and examining the detail for the seven Western Region counties helps us better understand the economy and society of the Region. We will continue to provide analysis of the issues as more results are released from the 2016 Census of Population.
 Rest of State refers to the 19 counties which are not in the Western Region and is used for comparison rather than using a State figures which also include the Western Region.
 Ingham, B., Chirijevskis, A. & Carmichael, F. Pensions Int J (2009) 14: 221.’ Implications of an increasing old-age dependency ratio: The UK and Latvian experiences compared’ doi:10.1057/ https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057%2Fpm.2009.16
 CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey Quarter 1 2016- Special run for the Western Region. See here for more detail https://www.wdc.ie/wp-content/uploads/WDC-Insights-Presentation-DSP-30.01.2017-final.pdf
The release of information from the Census of Population 2016 provides an interesting opportunity to look back 175 years to the Census of 1841 to see how population in the Western Region has changed.
The 1841 census is considered to be the first modern census in the Great Britain and Ireland (the UK as it was then). Each householder was required to complete a census schedule which contained the household address and the names, ages, sexes, occupations and places of birth of each individual living at the address. The process is described here. That Census, occurring before the devastation of the famine, provides information about a different Western Region.
Of course we know that in 1841 pre famine Ireland was a very different place, yet sometimes it is hard to believe how altered things are. Leitrim then had a population of 155,297 (it is now 32,044). Roscommon had more than a quarter of a million people, it now has 64,544 residents. For those of us who know these counties, it is strange to think about how much more densely they were populated and how little obvious evidence of that population remains.
Population density has of course reduced significantly throughout the Western Region (Table 1). It had been particularly high in Roscommon (99.52 persons per square kilometre), Sligo (98.44) and Leitrim (97.74) where some of the largest population losses occurred over the next decade.
Table 1: Population Density in the Western Region in 1841 and 2016
|1841 persons per sq km||2016 persons per sq km|
Source: CSO, 2017, Census 2016 Profile 2 -E2001: Population at Each Census 1841 to 2016 by County, Sex and Census Year and own calculations
As is evident from the changes in population density, all of the counties in the Western Region have suffered severe population decline since 1841 as is shown dramatically in the chart below.
Figure 1: Population of the Western Region counties 1841-2016
Source: CSO, 2017, Census 2016 Profile 2 -E2001: Population at Each Census 1841 to 2016 by County, Sex and Census Year
Of course the most rapid decline in population coincided with the famine (shown by the change between the 1841 and 1851 census), with Western Region counties losing between 32% (Roscommon) and 14% (Donegal) of their population in that decade. Bald population data can only indicate the horror of that time.
After 1851, as we know, the population continued to decline, for the most part at a gradually decreasing rate, until the 1971 Census when the population of Clare and Galway both showed increases. Other Western Region counties followed over the next decades (with some fluctuations) and Leitrim experienced its first population increase since 1841 in 2006, 165 years later.
None of the Western Region counties have yet returned to their 1841 population levels (Table 2) through there is significant variation in the percentage of the 1841 population resident in each county today.
Table 2: Population of Western Region counties and State, 1841 and 2016
|1841||2016||2016 as % of 1841 population|
Source: CSO, 2017, Census 2016 Profile 2 -E2001: Population at Each Census 1841 to 2016 by County, Sex and Census Year, and own calculations
The State, which had a population of more than 6.5m in 1841, now has 73% of its 1841 population. There are predictions of more rapid population growth see here and here and here , bringing the population back to pre-famine levels before the bicentennial of the 1841 census. This is largely due to more significant population recovery in other parts of Ireland, in particular on the east coast around the capital.
Despite declines in the nineteenth century (except in Dublin), five counties (Table 3) in the State now have higher populations than they did in 1841.
Table 3: Population of the five counties with larger population in 2016 than 1841
|1841||2016||2016 as % 1841 population|
Source: CSO, 2017, Census 2016 Profile 2 -E2001: Population at Each Census 1841 to 2016 by County, Sex and Census Year, and own calculations
The population has moved eastward (and out of the State), but if rising population is a good indicator of a successful economy and society, it is to be hoped that the Western Region can also recover much of its pre-famine population by 2041. Perhaps the forthcoming National Planning Framework will be instrumental in achieving this. However, given shifting population patterns (see here) it is likely that the 2041 population will be living in very different parts of the Region than in 1841.
 The population of Dublin County grew by 9% in that decade, the only county in the State which showed growth.
The Summary Results (Part 1) of the 2016 Census of Population were released last week (6th April), with information on population, and corrections to the preliminary results, as well as a number of other statistics giving an overall picture of Irish society. The infographic below, produced by the CSO, provides a picture of the data available.
This post discusses some of the information available for the Western Region based on data provided at county level. As more detailed Profiles become available we will be able to present more information at Region, County and ED levels.
What is the population of the Western Region and how has it changed since 2011?
Since the release of the Preliminary Results which was discussed here the population in most Western Region counties has been amended (in most cases it has been increased slightly, although Galway City population has been reduced). A notable change is that Sligo had, in the preliminary results, a marginal population decrease between 2011 and 2016 but in this corrected data it has actually shown a slight population increase.
The Western Region population was 828,697 people in April 2016. The population of the region increased by 7,817 people since 2011 (0.95%). In contrast, between 2006 and 2011 there was an increase of 57,516 persons or 7.5% in the population of the Western Region.
The state population in April 2016 was 4,761,865. It increased by 173,613 persons (3.8%) between 2011 and 2016 (Table 1).
Two counties in Ireland, both in the Western Region (Donegal (-1.5%); Mayo (-0.1%)) experienced population decline over the period. The highest population growth in the Western Region was in Galway City (4.2%) while Galway County also grew (2.4%). Clare had the next highest population growth (1.4%) while both Leitrim (0.8%) and Roscommon (0.7%) had very small population growth.
Table 1: Population in 2011 and 2016 of western counties, Western Region and rest of state
Source: CSO, Census of Population 2016 Summary Results part 1, EY004: Population and Actual and Percentage Change 2006 to 2016 by Sex, County and City, Census Year and Statistic
Differences in Male and Female Populations
In all counties (and in the Western Region and the State) there was higher growth in the female population than the male population (See Table 2). In the Western Region there was a 1.6% increase in the female population and 0.3% in the male population. For the rest of the state the difference was not so pronounced (males 3.6%; females 4%). Donegal was the only county to experience a decline in its female population.
Table 2: Percentage Change in County Population 2011-2016 Male and Female
Source: CSO, Census of Population 2016 Summary Results part 1, EY004: Population and Actual and Percentage Change 2006 to 2016 by Sex, County and City, Census Year and Statistic
This difference in the patterns of male and female population growth relates in large part to different patterns of migration and more detailed information will be available on this in Profile 2 (Population Distribution and Movement, release due 11 May) and Profile 7 (Migration and Diversity, release due 21 September). However, Table 3 below shows the differences in the male and female population in each county (using the standard measure of males per 100 females). As would be expected, because women live longer, in the oldest age category (75+) there are significantly fewer males than females. What is more unexpected is that the 30-44 age category has fewer men than women (unlike the age categories above and below it). This indicates significant male migration in this age category. Again, as more detail becomes available the different patterns can be better understood. Galway City consistently has more females than males across the age categories.
Table 3: County breakdown of men per 100 women by age group, 2016
In this Census 2016 Summary Report the population is not available at ED level. It is expected that this will be contained in the forthcoming release for Profile 2- Population Distribution and Movements on 11th May. Similarly, while the Summary Report discusses urban and rural population the detail is not provided at county level.
Population Age and Dependency
Some information is provided about age and the map below shows the difference in average age across Ireland. The average age in the state is 37.4 but the average age is higher in more rural counties of the West and North West and in Kerry and Tipperary. In fact Kerry and Mayo have the highest average age (both 40.2) followed closely by Leitrim (39.8), Roscommon (39.7) and Sligo (39.2) while the youngest is in Fingal at 34.3 years.
Source: CSO Summary results Census 2016 Part 1, Map 3.1
It is useful to examine the dependency ratios in the Western Region. Dependents are defined for statistical purposes as people outside the normal working age of 15-64. Dependency ratios are used to give a useful indication of the age structure of a population with young (0-14) and old (65+) shown as a percentage of the population of working age (i.e. 15-64).
Nationally, the total dependency ratio was 52.7% while that in the Western Region was, as would be expected, higher at 57.4%. Leitrim had the highest dependency ratio of any county at 62.6 per cent, closely followed by counties Mayo (61.0%), Roscommon (60.8%) and Donegal (60.5%). The lowest dependency ratios were in Galway city at 39.0 per cent, followed by Cork city (42.8%), Fingal (50.7%) and Kildare (51.4%).
Looking into the make up of this greater dependency the old age and young dependency ratios are shown in Figure 1. Galway County has the highest young dependency in the region (36.1%) while Galway City has the lowest in the region (23.4%). Most counties in the Western Region (except Sligo) have higher young dependencies than the State as a whole (32.3%) in part because of the loss of working age population through migration. Similarly most Western Region counties also have higher old age dependencies than the state (20.4%) with Galway City once again the exception (15.6%). The highest old age dependency is in Mayo (28.3%)
Figure 1: Old Age and Young dependency Ratios in the Western Region and State, 2016
Over the coming months to December 2017 data from Census 2016 will be released under various headings. This important information gives us the opportunity to better understand our region and its characteristics. It is essential for policy and decision making, as well as to our understanding the differences among regions in relation to a variety of issues such as economic output, social transfers and the demand for different goods and services. We look forward to analysing the future releases and to providing a better understanding of the Western Region throughout 2017.
 The Preliminary Results are based on the summary sheet for the Census form while this release is based on the information in the complete Census form.
 Rest of state refers to all the counties in the state except for the seven counties of the Western Region.
The WDC made its submission on Ireland 2040 – Our Plan: National Planning Framework yesterday. The Issues and Choices paper covered a wide range of topics from national planning challenges to sustainability, health, infrastructure and the role of cities and towns. A key element of the paper considered the future in a “business as usual” scenario in which even greater growth takes place in the Dublin and Mid East region with consequent increased congestion and increasing costs for businesses and society, while other parts of the country continue to have under-utilised potential which is lost to Ireland. The consultation paper therefore sought to explore the broad questions of alternative opportunities and ways to move away from the “business as usual” scenario.
The WDC submission considers these issues from the perspective of the Western Region, the needs of the Region, the opportunities its development presents for Ireland’s economy and society as a whole and the choices, investments and policy required to achieve regional growth and resilience.
This post highlights the key points made in the submission. The complete, comprehensive submission on the National Planning Framework by the WDC can be read here (4.5MB PDF). A shorter summary is available here (0.7MB PDF).
- The National Planning Framework (NPF) provides Ireland with an opportunity to more fully realise the potential of all of its regions to contribute to national growth and productivity. All areas of Ireland, the Capital and second tier cities, large, medium and small-sized towns, villages and open countryside, have roles to play both in the national economy and, most importantly, as locations for people to live.
- While spatial planning strives for ideal settlement or employment patterns and transport infrastructure, in many aspects of life change is relatively slow; demographics may alter gradually over decades and generations and, given the housing boom in the early part of this century, many of our existing housing units will be in use in the very long term. If the NPF is to be effective it must focus on what is needed, given current and historical patterns and the necessity for a more balanced pattern of development.
- To effectively support national growth it is important that there is not excessive urban concentration “Either over or under [urban] concentration … is very costly in terms of economic efficiency and national growth rates” (Vernon Henderson, 2000). Thus it is essential that, through the NPF, other cities and other regions become the focus of investment and development.
- As the NPF is to be a high level Framework, in this submission the WDC does not go into detail by naming places or commenting on specific development projects, as these will be covered by the forthcoming Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSES). The exception to this, however, is in relation to the need for cities to counterbalance Dublin. In this case we emphasise the role of Galway and the potential for Sligo to be developed as the key growth centre for the North West.
- The North West is a large rural region and Sligo is the best located large urban centre to support development throughout much of the North West region. With effective linkages to other urban centres throughout the region and improved connectivity, along with support from regional and national stakeholders, Sligo can become a more effective regional driver, supporting a greater share of population, economic and employment growth in Sligo itself and the wider North West region.
- While the NPF is to be a high level document and the focus is largely on cities it is important not to assume that development of key cities will constitute regional development. All areas need to be the focus of definite policy, and the NPF should make this clear.
- While cities may drive regional development, other towns, at a smaller scale, can be equally important to their region. Recognising this is not the same as accepting that all towns need the same level of connection and services. It is more important to understand that the context of each town differs, in terms of distance and connectivity to other towns and to the cities, the size of the hinterland it serves and its physical area as well as population. Therefore their infrastructure and service needs differ.
- Towns play a central role in Ireland’s settlement hierarchy. While much of the emphasis in the NPF Issues and Choices paper is on cities and their role, for a large proportion of Ireland’s population small and medium-sized towns act as their key service centre for education, retail, recreation, primary health and social activities. Even within the hinterlands of the large cities, people access many of their daily services in smaller centres. The NPF needs to be clear on the role it sees for towns in effective regional development.
- Rural areas provide key resources essential to our economy and society. They are the location of our natural resources and also most of our environmental, biodiversity and landscape assets. They are places of residence and employment, as well as places of amenity, recreation and refuge.
- They are already supporting national economic growth, climate action objectives and local communities, albeit at a smaller scale than towns and cities. But a greater focus on developing rural regions would increase the contribution to our economy and society made by rural areas.
- The key solution to maintaining rural populations is the availability of employment. It is important that the NPF is truly focused on creating opportunities for the people who live in the regions, whether in cities, towns or rural areas.
Employment and Enterprise
- In the Issues and Choices paper a narrow definition of ‘job’, ‘work’ and ‘employer’ as a full-time permanent employee travelling every day to a specific work location seems to be assumed. This does not recognise either the current reality of ‘work’ or the likely changes to 2040. Self-employment, the ‘gig’ or ‘sharing’ economy, contract work, freelancing, e-Working, multiple income streams, online business are all trends that are redefining the conceptions of work, enterprise and their physical location.
- If the NPF mainly equates ‘employer’ with a large IT services or high-tech manufacturing company, many of which (though by no means all) are attracted to larger cities, then it will only address the needs of a small proportion of the State’s population and labour force.
- Similarly the NPF must recognise the need to enable and support the diversification of the Irish economy and enterprise base. It must provide a support framework for indigenous business growth across all regions and particularly in sectors where regions have comparative advantage.
- While job opportunities are a critical factor in people’s decision of where to live, they are by no means the only factor. Many other personal and social factors influence this decision such as closeness to family (including for childcare and elder care reasons), affordability, social and lifestyle preferences, connection to place and community.
- Many people have selected to live in one location but commute to work elsewhere or, in some cases, e-Work for a number of days a week. The NPF needs to recognise the complexity of reasons for people’s location decisions in planning for the development of settlements.
- New infrastructure can be transformative (the increase in motorway infrastructure in recent decades shows how some change happens relatively quickly). Therefore it is essential that we carefully consider where we place new investments. To do so, capital appraisal and evaluation methods determining the costs and benefits of different investment projects need to be re-examined if we are to move from a ‘business as usual’ approach.
- Investment in infrastructure can strongly influence the location of other infrastructure with a detrimental impact on unserved locations. The North West of the country is at a disadvantage compared to other regions with regard to motorway access. This situation will be compounded if investment in rail is focused on those routes with better road access (motorways) in order for rail to stay competitive, or if communications or electricity networks are developed along existing motorway or rail corridors.
- The WDC believes that the regional cities can be developed more and have untapped potential, however better intra-regional linkages are needed. The weaker links between the regional centres – notably Cork to Limerick and north of Galway through to Sligo and on to Letterkenny, are likely to be a factor in the relatively slower growth of regional centres in contrast to the motorway network, most of which serves Dublin from the regions.
For the future, the need to move to a low carbon, fossil fuel free economy is essential and needs to be an integral and much more explicit part of the NPF. The National Mitigation Plan for Climate Change is currently being developed, and it is essential that actions under the NPF will be in line with, and support, the actions in the Mitigation Plan.
- While much of the role of the NPF is strategic vision and coordination of decision-making, in order for the Framework to be effective it is essential that the achievement of the vision and the actions essential to it are appropriately resourced. The Issues and Choices paper does not give a detailed outline of how the NPF implementation will be resourced, except through the anticipated alignment with the Capital Investment Programme.
- It should be remembered that policy on services and regional development is not just implemented through capital spending but also though current spending and through policy decisions with spatial implications (such as those relating to the location of services). Therefore it is essential that other spending, investment and policy decisions are in line with the NPF rather than operating counter to it.
- While the NPF is to provide a high level Framework for development in Ireland to 2040, it seems this Framework is to be implemented at a regional level through the RSES. The Framework and the Strategies are therefore interlinked yet the respective roles of the NPF and the RSES are not explicit and so it is not evident which areas of development will be influenced by the NPF and which by the RSES.
- In order to ensure that the NPF is implemented effectively it is important that there is a single body with responsibility for its delivery and that there is a designated budget to help achieve its implementation.
It is expected that a draft National Planning Framework document will be published for consultation in May. Following that a final version of the Framework will be prepared for discussion and consideration by Dáil Éireann.
As mentioned above the full WDC submission on the Issues and Choices paper Ireland 2040 Our Plan- A National Planning Framework is available here (PDF 4.5MB) and a summary of key point and responses to consultation questions is available here (PDF 0.7MB).
Data on County Incomes and Regional GDP for 2014 was released by the CSO this week. While preliminary figures for 2014 were released last year this release provides the official data for 2014. Unlike last year, however, the preliminary figures for the following year (which would have been 2015 in this case) have not been released. In this post County Incomes in the Western Region are discussed and Regional GDP will be considered next week. The map (produced by the CSO) gives an overview of the levels of Disposable Income across the State.
Disposable Income per person
Disposable Income per person is the focus of this post, this is made up of Primary Income plus Social Transfers less Taxes and Charges. The changes in the components of Household Income will all affect income level but these will be considered in more detail in a future post. Table 1 shows Disposable Income per person for the seven counties Western Region counties and for the State.
Table 1: Disposable Income per person by county, 2014 and 2013Source: http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/er/cirgdp/countyincomesandregionalgdp2014/ Western Region data- own calculations
While Disposable Income per person in 2014 was €19,178 in the State, it was €16,963 in the Western Region. For both there was an increase on 2013, by 3.5% for the State Disposable Income per person and by 1.9% for the Western Region.
The highest Disposable Income per person in the Western Region was in Galway (€17,929), while the highest nationally was in Dublin (€21,963 per person), some €4, 034 higher than Galway. Donegal (€15,061) had the lowest Disposable Income in both the Western Region and nationally.
All counties showed growth in Disposable Income between 2013 and 2014 (see Figure 1) with the highest growth in the Western Region in Roscommon (2.7%) although Roscommon has the second lowest Disposable Income in the Region and nationally after Donegal. Leitrim had the lowest Disposable Income growth (0.8%) between 2013 and 2014
Figure 1: Disposable Income per person, 2013 and 2014
Source: http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/er/cirgdp/countyincomesandregionalgdp2014/ Western Region data- own calculations
In the Western Region the gap between the county with the highest Disposable Income per person (Galway) and the lowest (Donegal) was €2,751 in 2014. This gap between the highest and lowest has narrowed slightly since 2013 when the gap between the Donegal and Sligo was €2,802. Revision of the 2013 figures (which reduced the Disposable Income per person figure for all of the Western Region counties) meant that Sligo had a higher Disposable Income figure than Galway, for the first time in 2013. By 2014 Galway was again ahead but only by €61 per person.
Trends over time
Looking over the longer term (since 2006) incomes in 2014 have still not regained the levels seen in 2006 (see Figure 2), and are still some distance from peak levels in 2008. Some of this may be explained by higher taxes and charges and lower social transfers than in 2008 and this will be examined in more detail in a forthcoming post.
Figure 2: Disposable Income per person, 2006-2014
While Figure 2 shows the actual Disposable Incomes per person, when considering the trends among counties it is useful to use Indices so that county figures can be examined relative to the State (State=100). This is shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Index of County Incomes per person 2006-2014, State=100)
Disposable Income in Galway has been consistently the highest in the region (except for 2013) approaching the State average from 2006 onwards and in 2010 surpassing it with an index value of 100.9. Since then, however, it has been relatively lower and in 2014 it was only 93.4% of the State figure. In 2014 Sligo was also at 93.4% of the State Disposable Income per person, and over the longer term the income in Sligo has been improving relative to the State, rising fairly consistently from 92.2% in 2006.
In contrast both Clare and Roscommon have shown significant relative declines since 2006 when Clare was 94.2% of the State average and Roscommon was 93.6. In 2014 Clare was 89.2% of the State average and Roscommon was only 85%. Donegal has consistently had the lowest Disposable Income per person in the country at only 78.8% of the State in 2006 and 78.04% in 2014. In 2010 it peaked at 84% but this was largely due to the lower State figure in that period.
This post has provided a brief overview of the key County Income figures released this week for the Western Region. The components and trends will be analysed in more detail in the coming months.
 It should also be noted that the 2013 figures have also been revised.
 Disposable Household Income Is calculated in three steps; Primary Income Household Primary Income is defined for National Income purposes as follows: Compensation of employees (i.e. Wages and Salaries, Benefits in kind, Employers’ social insurance contributions) plus Income of self-employed plus Rent of dwellings (including imputed rent of owner-occupied dwellings) plus Net interest and dividends
 See http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/er/cirgdp/countyincomesandregionalgdp2014/ for more information
 Western Region Household Disposable income per person is calculated by inferring population estimates for 2013 and 2014
 Western Region Household Disposable income per person is calculated by inferring population estimates for 2013 and 2014
Two weeks ago (6th February 2017) Minister Heather Humphreys hosted an All Island Dialogue on the implications of Brexit on Culture, Heritage, Regional SMEs & the Impact on Border & other Rural Communities in Cavan. This was one of the fourteen All-Island sectoral dialogues which have taken place across the country over the recent weeks.
Over 100 stakeholders attended the event and there was engaged and active discussion of the issue throughout the day. To begin with the Minister outlined the Government’s ongoing response to Brexit. Then a panel of experts covering the broad range of sectors under the remit of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs each gave a short overview of the implications of Brexit for their sector.
- Overview –Katherine Licken, Secretary General, DAHRRGA
- Culture & Irish Language- Orlaith McBride, CEO, Arts Council
- Heritage & Outdoor Recreation –Dawn Livingstone, CEO, Waterways Ireland
- Regional SMEs –Arnold Dillon, IBEC
- Impact on Border Communities Allen McAdam, International Fund for Ireland
- Impact on other rural communities –Louise Lennon, Irish Rural Link
Roundtable discussions were then held to consider the immediate impact of Brexit, longer term impacts and how they might be mitigated. The focus was on arts, heritage, small businesses and rural communities. The discussions fed back into a broader panel discussion.
Common Themes from the discussions
A number of common themes emerged from the discussion (as well as detailed sector specific issues which are not covered in this post). A summary of the more general points raised by stakeholders, applicable to all sectors considered on the day, is provided below.
- Uncertainty over the form and impact of Brexit was key to all of the discussion. This was regarded as a particular problem as we are just emerging from recession. Uncertainty increases risks for businesses, communities, cultural organisations and people as they make decisions. Plans are therefore being delayed until a clearer picture emerges.
- This slowdown in individual and business decision making is affecting economic and social activities on both sides of the border, even before the full consequences of Brexit are known.
- There is very significant variation in the levels of knowledge of the possible implications of Brexit among businesses, communities and people. Some are well informed about possible difficulties or opportunities, others have very poor understanding and will therefore face more difficulty in making plans and developing responses to Brexit.
- Currency fluctuations and the loss of value of sterling have had the most immediate impact which has led to other direct impacts on tourism and retail businesses.
- Maintenance of the Common Travel Area and free movement of people was important to all involved in the discussion. Organisations staff and experts in various sectors move across borders regularly and any restrictions would negatively affect the functioning of these organisations and businesses.
- Ensuring the continued implementation of the Good Friday Agreement with associated institutions and commitments was regarded as essential.
- In future, changes to the way cross border services are provided in areas such as health and education will affect people living in border communities.
- Currently the UK and Ireland are in a common regulatory regime but this will change. Across all sectors there were concerns about the implications of divergence in regulation and implementation of different regulatory approaches. This is an issue in a variety of areas including, for example, procurement and data protection.
- The form of future taxation agreements, VAT rules and rates could be very significant and have important implications for businesses and arts and cultural enterprises.
- There will be a significant change to the funding landscape in the border region and beyond. It is unclear what will happen with the EU Peace programme, Interreg and other funding. It was agreed that the border counties will be most affected by Brexit, and of these counties some will be more severely affected (Donegal was mentioned as the example of this). There are over 300 border crossings and it is not clear whether they will all remain open in the future.
- There has been a significant increase in cross border activity since the Good Friday Agreement and there is concern that this will be diminished. This has business implications but also intangible effects on the mind-set of those living close to the border.
- A better understanding of the current trade and activities that take place across borders (between ROI and NI and between ROI and GB) is needed. This includes trade of goods and services, but we also have weak understanding of the reasons people are travelling across the border for work, trade or social reasons.
- Understanding of the cross border infrastructures which have been developing in recent decades is important. The implications of change for roads, energy infrastructure and broadband need to be considered. Changes in the way these are planned and managed will affect both Ireland as a whole and border communities in particular.
- There should be a focus on the development of new markets outside the UK and support both businesses and cultural organisations in doing this.
- There was a view that many of the benefits of Brexit will be felt in larger urban centres and that border and rural regions will be most negatively affected because of their proximity to the border, the nature of their enterprises and their smaller population base. There is concern that here could be further rural de-population if the opportunities that Brexit may bring are confined to the Dublin area. This needs to be addressed in a coherent manner.
- It was highlighted that if we want a sustainable, viable and vibrant Border region, we need to plan to achieve this
- There was a suggestion that the concentration on Brexit will take the focus off other important issues already affecting the Border region, such as access to services, infrastructure and access to employment.
- Finally, among many of the participants, in all areas, there was a positive, ‘can do’ attitude. It was felt that we have had problems and difficulties before and have dealt with them. There was concern that there might be an overly negative portrayal of the implications of Brexit, and that this in turn was affecting the confidence of enterprise, communities and people and in turn affecting their decision making.
Actions Suggested by Stakeholders during the discussion
- Clear information needs to be made available about the possible implications for Brexit for communities, cultural organisations and businesses, addressing their specific issues.
- It is important that there is more analysis and understanding of the current situation in regard to cross border trade, cross border service provision, and the on-going community engagement across borders. This information needs to be used as a basis for considering Brexit implications and appropriate response. With more detailed information we can have better policy responses.
- Analysis should not just address issues of business or trade but also the hard to measure issues of social integration, identity and sense of place along the border.
- It will be important that the implications of differing regulatory standards are well understood and that these are considered both in Brexit negotiations and in developing responses to this regulatory issue in future.
- We should use expertise from other member states which have borders with non EU countries to get a better understanding of the potential issues and to understand their models and means of ensuring that borders and relationships between EU and Non EU countries are smooth and seamless as possible.
- The potential for substitution of imports from the UK needs to be explored as it may provide opportunities across a range of sectors.
- The government needs to continue to consult stakeholders as the impacts of Brexit become clearer so that responses and actions can be developed.
- We should examine problems individually and develop responses to each. There cannot be one single policy response, each issue will need to be addressed. Brexit is complex and responses should be tailored to the individual issue.
- Both ROI and NI need to work closely together to understand the possible implications for Brexit for both jurisdictions and to work to achieve the best possible agreement. In this it is important that there is a close working relationship and significant engagement with the NI Executive so that all island solutions can be implemented where appropriate
- Future government policy, including the National Planning Framework, needs to take into account the potential implications of Brexit and the changing nature of the border and ensure that there is a plan for a positive, sustainable future for the border region.
- Special supports for the border region should be considered, in terms of structural funds as well as enterprise and community support and funding.
- A specific fund for EU regions with sharing a border with non EU countries should be developed to mitigate the difficulties faced by these regions.
The focus in this dialogue on rural communities and on the Border region was significant, as these are likely to be the most immediately and directly affected by Brexit. Uncertainty was a key theme of the discussion, and it is to be hoped that once Article 50 has been declared by the UK government and negotiations begin, that the situation may become clearer. You can sign up for on-going updates on Brexit here.
The Action Plan for Rural Development –Realising our Rural Potential –developed by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (DAHRRGA) was launched yesterday (23.01.17) in Ballymahon, Co. Longford as was mentioned in our last post.
The Action Plan contains 274 actions which are to be completed over the next three years and uses the Action Plan for Jobs as a model with responsibility for the delivery of each action is assigned to a government department or other body. Each action has a clear timeline.
There is an emphasis on the positive assets of rural Ireland and on ‘changing the narrative towards the contribution made to our economy and society by rural areas, rather than a focus on rural decline’.
It is recognised that rural Ireland is not a homogenous place and that different areas face different challenges. There is no clear definition of rural Ireland but it seems to use that defined in the CEDRA (Commission for Economic Development of Rural Areas ) “all areas located beyond the administrative boundaries of the five largest cities”.
Building on Policy
The Action Plan builds on the CEDRA report and the Charter for Rural Ireland and contains a number of actions which build on these. For example, a review of the implementation of the CEDRA report is one action, while the REDZ are also part of the Action Plan.
The Action Plan outlines the population and other changes which have been taking place in rural Ireland and briefly examines the challenges and opportunities faced by rural areas. One of the key challenges noted is BREXIT and the Western Development Commission is committed to an action (along with DAHRRGA) to examine the impact of BREXIT on rural areas and on border areas in particular.
Action Plan Themes
As mentioned in our previous post there are five thematic pillars, each of which has a series of objectives and actions. Each of the five are further broken down into more specific themes as follows:
Pillar 1: Supporting Sustainable Communities
- Making Rural Ireland a better place to live (Actions 1-19)
- Enhancing Local Services (Actions 20-36)
- Empowering Local Communities (Actions 37-46)
- Building Better Communities (Actions 47-67)
Pillar 2: Supporting Enterprise and Employment
- Growing and Attracting Enterprise (Actions 68-104)
- Supporting Sectoral Growth (this covers the Agri-food Sector, Renewable energy and International Financial Services -Actions 105-120)
- Skills and Innovation (Actions 121-134)
- Supporting Rural Job Seekers and Protecting Incomes (Actions 135-151)
Pillar 3: Maximising our Rural Tourism and Recreation Potential
- Support targeted Rural Tourism Initiatives (Actions 152-166)
- Develop and Promote Activity Tourism (Actions 167-185)
- Develop and Support our Natural and Built Heritage (Actions 186-202)
Pillar 4: Fostering Culture and Creativity in Rural Communities
- Increase access to the arts in rural communities (Actions 203-209)
- Enhance Culture and Creativity in Rural Ireland (Actions 210-222)
- Promote the Irish language as a key resource (Actions 223-231)
Pillar 5: Improving Rural Infrastructure and Connectivity
- Broadband and Mobile Phone Access (Actions 232-247)
- Rural Transport (Actions 248-263)
- Flood Relief Measures (Actions 264-276)
While there are more than 270 actions the key actions for the Plan (as highlighted by DAHRRGA )are listed here:
- Supporting the creation of 135,000 new jobs in rural Ireland by 2020 by assisting indigenous businesses, investing €50m for collaborative approaches to job creation in the regions, and increasing Foreign Direct Investment in regional areas by up to 40%.
- Implementing a range of initiatives to rejuvenate over 600 rural and regional towns.
- Introducing a new pilot scheme to encourage residential occupancy in town and village centres.
- Assisting over 4,000 projects in rural communities to boost economic development, tackle social exclusion and provide services to people living in remote areas.
- Increasing the number of visitors to rural Ireland by 12% in the next three years through targeted tourism initiatives, including increased promotion of Activity Tourism.
- Accelerating the preparation for the rollout of high-speed broadband and ensuring that all homes and businesses in rural Ireland are connected to broadband as early as possible.
- Increasing capital funding for flood risk schemes up to €80m per annum by 2019 and increasing to €100m per annum by 2021
- Improving job opportunities for young people in rural areas by increasing the number of apprenticeships and traineeships available locally.
- Developing an Atlantic Economic Corridor to drive jobs and investment along the Western seaboard and contribute to more balanced regional development.
- Investing over €50 million in sports, recreation and cultural facilities throughout the country, including in rural areas.
- Protecting vital services in rural Ireland by improving rural transport provision, enhancing rural GP services and protecting rural schools.
- Introducing a range of measures to boost job creation in the Gaeltacht, including the creation of 1,500 new jobs in Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies by 2020 and the development of Innovation Hubs in the Donegal, Mayo, Galway and Kerry Gaeltacht regions to support entrepreneurship.
- Combating rural isolation by improving connectivity and enhancing supports for older people, including significant investment in the Senior Alert scheme.
- Building safer communities by providing a more visible, effective and responsive police service in rural areas through the recruitment of 3,200 new Garda members over the next four years to reach a strength of 15,000 members, and by introducing a new community CCTV Grant Aid Scheme.
- Examining the scope for increased investment in regional roads in the context of the review of the Capital Investment Plan 2016-2021
- Assessing and improving rural transport routes and developing new routes where necessary
- Delivering 18 new primary care centres in rural Ireland by end of 2018
- Investing €435m in 90 public nursing facilities and district and community hospitals in rural Ireland, up to 2021, creating up to 5,000 jobs during the construction phase
- Improving societal cohesion and wellbeing in rural communities by supporting cultural and artistic provision and participation.
Co-ordination and monitoring
One of the important outcomes of the Action Plan should be a more integrated approach to rural issues across government departments and agencies.
The implementation of the Action Plan will be overseen by a Monitoring Committee which will include representatives of relevant government departments and key rural stakeholder interests. The Committee will be supported by DAHRRGA.
Reports will be submitted every six months to a cabinet committee on Regional and Rural Affairs which is chaired by the Taoiseach and the progress reports on the delivery of the actions will be published.
The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphries, TD has appointed Pat Spillane as an Ambassador for the Action Plan for Rural Development who will assist the Monitoring Committee in identifying the impacts of the Plan on Rural Ireland and encourage businesses, communities, sporting organisations and others to engage with the Plan. Mr Spillane previously acted as Chair of the Commission for Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA). He will also be a member of the Monitoring Committee which will oversee the implementation on the Action Plan.
While the majority of the actions are already part of government policy including them in the Action Plan means that their progress will be regularly monitored by Monitoring Committee which should ensure continued focus.
You can read the full Action Plan here.
There is a short video also available.
For the year end the WDC policy analysis team has produced an infographic of the Western Region highlighting key statistics and important elements that contribute to the economy and life of the region.
We have included population and population changes for our seven counties (on a handy little map reminding you of where we are) as well as key employment, unemployment and self-employment statistics. Alongside these we have income and enterprise statistics for the region and we looked at connectivity and highlighted other regional characteristics including rail freight use and wind energy.
We hope you enjoy it, if you want to take a closer look, download the pdf here (1.4MB) and, in case you are wondering where it all came from, the data sources are listed on the second sheet
A conference on the Future of Work, on 29th November, organised by the Sunday Business Post highlighted the trends and influences which are likely to impact on the types of jobs that will be in demand in the future.
In his keynote address, Ade McCormack, former technologist and Financial Times columnist explained why work will be quite a different experience for our children. He tracks human development and work from Stone Age man to now and suggests that we are moving from the Information age into the Biological age. This will include moving from a stage of using and wearing technology to possibly have technology embedded in us. He also suggests that as many as 50% of jobs in the future will be done by robots and humans will need to develop their creative potential rather than engage in mundane tasks which will be done increasingly by robots.
He also notes that the digital economy is driving fundamental power shifts including: from the employer to the employee, from the seller to the buyer and from the government to the citizen.
In his presentation on How to future proof your workplace? Peter Cosgrove, Director, CPL and Founder of the Future of Work Institute, Ireland, highlighted some key issues and trends which will impact on employment including;
- The impact of technology on all businesses and how technology is affecting recruitment methods with social media an increasingly important aspect.
- How businesses are being affected by a global marketplace, flexible working and adapting to the new generation of workers. Work in the future will not be a place to go to, but a thing to do!
- The importance of talent, innovation and how gender diversity will become increasingly important
- The employer brand is important and employers will need to adapt to ensure they attract future talent in a talent scarce marketplace.
Fiona Mullen, the HR Director at Facebook discussed How companies can provide outstanding workplaces which are enablers for productivity, creativity and innovation. Fiona provided an interesting account of the Facebook story and the values of being ‘bold’ in a brave and innovative way and open to its staff and customers. The company tries to avoid being hierarchical and engages with staff in building trust and a common purpose. The company motto is ‘This Journey is 1% Finished’, illustrating its ongoing ambition.
Annette Burns, Director of eumom highlighted the growing importance of women in the workforce. She noted that Western economies are facing a skills crisis where a birth rate of 2.1 is needed just to keep standing still; yet every year thousands of skilled women leave the workforce. In Ireland alone, over 3000 fulltime women leave every year. In the US 3 million professional women are keen to re-enter the workplace. eumom, has researched the issues and has identified what limits women’s participation and what are the enablers to contributing now and in the future.
Professor Anthony Staines, DCU discussed how changing skills requirements alter education priorities for individuals and policy-makers across the stages of formal education? In particular he examines the focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects and suggests that while this is important there is a need to focus on other skills also. He notes that in comparison to other countries we do have a well-educated workforce, though there are some issues with early school leaving and the youth who disengage from formal education. He noted that our education system is getting better at supporting lifelong learning but the main beneficiaries are those who are already well educated and have done well out of the education system. He suggests that in terms of educational outcomes Ireland is good at equality but not equity. He welcomed the developments undertaken by SOLAS in expanding and modernising the apprentice system in Ireland and suggests that employers should increasingly try to employ apprentices rather than the traditional focus on graduates. He also noted that while technology is solving a lot of problems there are some persistent problems that need much attention such as
- Persistent poverty
- Climate change
- Controlling corporations
Mark Coleman, Research Director at Gartner discussed the issue of Competing for Top Talent. Though most CIOs believe there is a talent crisis, they engage in surprisingly little talent innovation. In particular, they should consider new approaches to acquiring and keeping top talent. To compete in this arena, CIOs must borrow the mindset, tools and technologies of branding and marketing. Seeing talent as a customer, and employment by IT as a brand promise fulfilled, will improve talent acquisition and retention.
In her Ministerial Address: Mary Mitchell O’Connor, T.D, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & innovation noted the new jobs announcements she had made that morning in pharmaceuticals and communications and that they were likely to be an important feature of the economy in the future. She highlighted the new data on unemployment which is now at the lowest rate in many years and the importance of continuing to ensure that all have an opportunity to enter the workforce. The Minister noted the role of the Regional Action Plans for Jobs and the new Regional Skills Fora as an important initiative designed to bring employers and educationalists together to ensure skills gaps are overcome.
Professor Cathal O’Donoghue, Director, Rural Economy and Development Programme, Teagasc discussed The Future of Work in the regional economies of Ireland. He showed how the recent recession and economic recovery has affected different parts of Ireland in different ways, which has resulted in diverging labour markets. He discussed recent drivers in relation to regional economic growth, demographic and labour market changes. The Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas outlined a strategy to both increase employment in the short term and to move employment up the value chain in the medium term.
Kevin Empey, Director, Willis Towers Watson discussed how advances in technology are redefining employer/employee relationships. He explored what is changing in the employer / employee landscape and how organisations can prepare for a rapidly changing workforce and workplace. He discussed how demographic and technology trends are converging to transform working environments globally as well as the implications for Business Leaders, for HR and for employees.
The conference concluded with an interesting Panel Discussion on The ‘Gig’ economy and What it means for work in the future? This on-demand, or so called ‘gig’ economy is creating exciting economies and unleashing innovation. But there are important hard questions about workforce protections and what a ‘good’ job will look like in the future.
Western Development Commission
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Co Roscommon, F45 WY26, Ireland
+353 (0) 9498 61441