Voters in the Republic and the North need to be better informed on the economic and social issues ahead of any poll on the border, the Economic and Social Research Institute has said.
The body also said it is key that officials make preparations ahead of any border poll.
In a bulletin setting out the known and unknown facts about the economies, ESRI researchers Seamus McGuinness and Adele Bergin say the debate about a border poll has increased since the UK's Brexit referendum and has been driven by demographic and political changes across Ireland.
No one can predict when a border poll might be triggered. The evidence necessary for voters to make an informed decision must be established in a timely fashion.— seamus mcguinness (@seamusmcguinnes) July 23, 2020
Here we outline relevant facts and identify areas where new research is needed @ESRIDublin https://t.co/zulmA310cm
"While there is great uncertainty with respect to the timing of any border poll, it is imperative that adequate planning and preparation is undertaken so that voters, North and South, can be fully informed if, and when, a border poll arises," the ESRI says.
The North's economy is one of the poorest in the UK and the southern economy is wealthier even accounting for the distortions of GDP, while disposable household income in the Republic in 2016 of €28,117 compares with €25,315 in the North.
However, the unknown facts include the true value of the estimated £9.2bn (€10bn) subvention grant from London for the North, if the region's contribution to the UK's defence budget and some old-age payments are stripped out, the ESRI says.