Structural Economic Change in Ireland 1957-2006: Statistics, Context and Analysis


  • Patrick Quill Central Statistics Office
  • Paddy Teahon Former Secretary General, Department of the Taoiseach


economic development, structural change, historical data


The fifty years since the publication of Economic Development has been a time of change and growth for Ireland. Analysis of the development of the structural composition of the economy in this period requires a consistent and comprehensive dataset from the late 1950s onwards. The national income and expenditure tables have changed over time and a consistent set of historical tables is only available from 1970 onwards. Gross value added by sector in the official historical series is given for only a small number of sectors. In this paper the tables of gross value added by sector in current and in constant prices, are extended backwards to 1957 and expanded to include fifteen industry groupings. A new comprehensive and consistent dataset spanning fifty years of the Irish economy is thus constructed. Details of the methods and sources used to develop these series are presented. A context for analysis is set out based on the framework or model developed by Professor Carlota Perez in a series of publications since 1983 and most notably in her 2002 book Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital. Structural changes of the economy over the period are analysed. The analysis shows how different sectors have contributed to the economy over time. It also reveals, in the Irish case, that structural change can be independent of economic growth. The Irish economy is set in the context of the Perez model of technological revolutions and Ireland.s place in current and past technological revolutions is evaluated.