Book review Ireland Economic conditions Social conditions Education Income
Economic & Social Research Institute
Honohan, Patrick. 'Book review: Preventing the future: why was Ireland so poor for so long? / by Tom Garvin. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan., 2004'. - Economic & Social Review, Vol. 35, No. 3, Winter, 2004, pp. 351-355, Dublin: Economic & Social Research Institute
In the last year of peace before the First World War, Ireland had (though this book
does not make any such comparison) reached a level of per capita income roughly comparable with that of Swaziland today, while the remainder of the UK was roughly
where South Africa is now. Ireland’s per capita income was about 55 per cent of that
in the UK. Swaziland is poor – reckoned a lower-middle income country; Ireland was poor, each looking to the large neighbour as the reference point, and wondering how the
large average income gap could be bridged.
The turbulence of two wars and a global depression affected Ireland and Britain
differently, but by the early 1950s Ireland had slipped to just half British income, and
the slide was not halted until 1959. More than three decades of independence had
confounded the expectations of nationalists that prosperity would follow automatically
once the country was being run by patriots. What had gone wrong?
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