Irish Among The Happiest People In Europe

A study by the European Union has revealed that Irish people are a pretty happy bunch.

Irish People are among the happiest in the World

With a score of 7.4 out of 10 in the ‘experience of life ranking’ Ireland trails only behind Denmark (the perennial winner) with 8.4, Sweden and Finland with a score of 8, Luxembourg (7.8), Malta (7.7) and the Netherlands (7.7).

Surprisingly, given the recent economic devastation, the report found that Ireland was the third richest country in the EU, behind Luxembourg and Austria in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in purchasing power.

This study mirrors other recent reports including the UNICEF report that ranked Ireland tenth best in the world for kids and the OECD Better Life index that revealed that Ireland had higher levels of education and longer life expectancy that most OECD countries. Similarly the World Happiness Report ranked Ireland as the 18th happiest country in the world!

Commenting on the apparent contradiction in Irish happiness given the severe economic setbacks the country has endured since 2008, the co-author of the World Happiness Report, John Helliwell remarked:

This is just one more illustration that people’s happiness depends to a much smaller extent on their income than they think it does

The Report is based upon several variables:

– GDP per capita
– Life expectancy
– Perceived national corruption
– Freedom to make life choices
– Generosity of fellow citizens
– Having someone to rely on in times of trouble

These surveys are a surprise if you consider the media portrayal of Irish society. Certainly the economy has taken a hammering over the last few years but it is not as if the entire gains of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ era have been wiped out. Infrastructure has improved greatly, quality of lifestyle has improved, social safety-nets are relatively well funded although the Irish health care system still leaves a lot to be desired.

If the news and television media are to be believed though, the country is awash with criminality, desperation, ‘ghost estates’, and unemployment.

Ireland does have all of these problems, just like many countries in the world, but the repeated proof of Irish happiness and good ‘quality of life’ from several international sources simply does not reflect the malaise portrayed by the Irish news media.

Simply put the Irish people are being told that things are desperate but those who have not emigrated, have a job, have a home and have access to health-care, just do not agree.

Those without a job or home certainly feel differently and while the current economic problems will certainly pass it will leave behind a society that has a much greater imbalance between the rich and those who are less well-off.

Happiness therefore is very much viewed through a personal lens.

As Oscar Wilde put it:
Ah, on what little things does happiness depend!
I have read all that the wise men have written,
and all the secrets of philosophy are mine,
yet for want of a red rose is my life made wretched.

by Michael Green
Home Page

UNICEF Ranks Ireland Tenth Best For Kids

A report by UNICEF has provided mixed news for Irish parents with its findings ranging from very good to seriously bad. The report listed an average rank in the four elements of child well-being: material well-being, health, education, and behaviours and risks.


The report examined data from 2001 to 2010 for 29 developed OECD countries and ranked The Netherlands, Norway, Iceland, Finland and Sweden at the top of the list with the UK in 16th place and the US in 21st place. The listing of Ireland in 10th place is relatively good but does however mask some shortcomings in the Irish treatment of its younger citizens.

Ireland ranked tenth overall with the report finding:

  • The Irish Child poverty rate of 8.5% is below the OECD average
  • Alcohol use among 11 to 15 year old children sees Ireland in 14th place with the US in 1st place (least number of children who reported being drunk at least twice) and the UK in 23rd place. Cannabis use by the same age group saw Ireland in 13th place, the UK in 21st place and the US in 25th place.
  • There has been a large decline in child and teenage smoking with Ireland ranked in 6th place, the US in 4th place and the UK in 7th place.
  • Ireland ranks 20th in number of births to teenage girls (15 to 19 years) with the UK in 27th place and the US in 29th place (most births)
  • The number of children overweight is increasing and Ireland is behind the UK, Germany and France in this regard. 15% are rated as overweight using the BMI scale. In the UK the rate is 12% while in the US it is 28%
  • Ireland has the highest rate of child exercise with the US in 2nd place and the UK tenth place.
  • In the 15 to 19 year old bracket Ireland is at the bottom of the list with regard to unemployment (includes not being in school or training)
  • Participation in third level education (15 to 19 years old) sees Ireland in third place (92% participation) with the US in 25th place (82%), and the UK in 29th (73%).
  • In terms of health and safety Ireland ranked 15th of the 29 countries.
  • In education terms Ireland ranked 17th
  • In housing and environment Ireland ranked 2nd
  • Homicide rates in the 29 countries sees the US in 27th place with just under 5 deaths per 100,000 citizens. Ireland is in 24th place (just over 2 deaths per 100,000 citizens) and the UK in 14th place.

The full report can be accessed here:
http://www.unicef-irc.org/Report-Card-11/

by Michael Green
Home Page

Rate of Unemployment In Ireland Remains High At 14.6%

The rate of unemployment in Ireland remains stubbornly high within the 14% to 15% range. This bad news has in part been reduced by an increase in the rate of emigration.



The Central Statistics Office has announced that the number of people ‘signing on’ is just under 430,000, down just over 10,000 since the start of 2012. The figures could not mask the increase in the number of those considered to be ‘long-term’ unemployed. Nearly 190,000 of the total unemployed have been claiming benefits for over a year – a 3.3% increase over the year.

The Irish Central Bank estimates domestic growth of only 0.5% in 2013 with GDP growth of 1.3%, a reduction in previous estimates. These numbers do not encourage any belief that the rate of Irish unemployment will decrease any time soon, putting further strain on an Irish economy already struggling with a huge social welfare bill.

European unemployment continues to be a big issue with Spain at a massive 26%, Portugal at 16%, Italy at 11%, France at over 10%, the UK at under 8% and Germany at just under 7%.

source: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_PUBLIC/3-08012013-BP/EN/3-08012013-BP-EN.PDF>

by Michael Green
Home Page

Ireland Ranked 25th Most Corrupt Country in 2012

The Berlin based watchdog ‘Transparency International’ has released its latest report regarding national public sector corruption.

The new study uses metrics such as the independence and efficiency of the state judicial system as well as the effectiveness of oversight of public spending to compile the list. According to the latest results Ireland has fallen from 19th place last year to 25th place in 2012. The study measures the perception of corruption, given that most corrupt dealings are secret or never detected.

Of the 176 countries that were analyzed Greece ranked in 94th place, the worst of any EU country. Widescale corruption and tax evasion continue to compound the problems of this bankrupt country, already reeling from years of austerity and facing into perhaps decades more.

New Zealand, Denmark and Finland were ranked as the least corrupt countries. It is perhaps no coincidence that these three countries are also among the top countries to be born in according to a recent study by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan were listed as the most corrupt countries.

The US was ranked in 19th place with Germany in 13th, Britain and Japan in 17th place, and France in 22nd. With China in 80th place and Russia in 133rd place the report clearly cites the need for sustained political action in order for a country to improve its perception of corruptness.

Italy in 72nd place, Bulgaria in 75th, and Romania in 66th place demonstrates the problems facing those EU countries and especially so in the light of the current plans to install a new European-wide banking supervisor.

Irish Among the Busiest Texters as World Marks Twentieth Anniversary

The twentieth anniversary of the first ever text message being sent has now passed. It is a mere two decades since UK engineer Neil Papworth sent his ‘Merry Christmas’ message to a colleague.

It is hard to imagine that the telecom companies knew what would follow. Hundreds of Billions of messages later and the Irish are among the most prodigious texters in the world, sending over a billion messages every month in 2012 so far. It is an astonishing statistic that the Irish send an average of at least 142 message per person every month.

So the next time you are on a bus or train and the person next to you is contorting their fingers and thumbs as if their life depends on it or….
…the next time you are at the theatre or cinema only to hear the unmistakable drone of a mobile phone or…
…the next time you read some text speak (lol omg lmho l8r, etc. etc.) and despair then…
…you will know who started it all.

Thanks Neil

The Changing Face of Irish Religion Revealed by CSO Statistics

The Central Statistics Office has released more figures from the 2011 census that has highlighted the changing makeup of religion in Ireland.
* The number of agnostics or atheists has increased dramatically and now represents 5.9% of the population
* Catholics represent 84.2% of the population, the lowest percentage ever recorded
* Muslims account for 1.1%
* Non-Christian religions in Ireland account for 1.9%

Other highlight from the 2011 census include:
* There were 42,854 more females than males in the State in April 2011
* Immigration by Irish nationals was 19,593 in the year to April 2011
* Immigration by foreign nationals in the year to April 2011 was 33,674. The largest groups came from Poland, UK, France, Lithuania, Spain and the USA
* Total housing stock grew to almost 2 million homes, of these almost 290,000 were vacant on census night giving a vacancy rate of 14.5%
* Over half a million (514,068) Irish residents spoke a foreign language. Polish was by far the most common, followed by French, Lithuanian and German