Economic Adaptation

The Irish economic journey since 1973 has been strikingly volatile with bouts of significant growth (1970s, 1990-2007) and – equally - periods of retrenchment and great stagnation (1980s, 2008-13). Although Lemass and Whittaker had set in train a new approach to economic development, and the 1960s had seen significant growth in investment and growth it remained the case that Ireland was, in 1973, a poor country on the margins of Europe. It continued to exhibit high levels of unemployment, poverty and emigration. The level of income for those working was only about half of the then EEC average. It was far from certain that membership would provide the necessary impetus toward turning around the Irish economy. The successive oil crises of the 1970s did not help matters. But Europe would prove a formidable agent of change as the Irish economy adjusted to new dynamics of competition and new opportunities to expand market share as the EU both deepened its level of integration and added new members in the years ahead.


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