Gap between rich and poor regions growing, study finds

The difference in wealth between Dublin and Cork regions and the rest of the country is vast and growing according to the latest figures released by Eurostat.

Figures for all the regions of the EU also show a huge disparity with the richest, the inner city of London having three times the EU average level of wealth, while the poorest part of Bulgaria is 10 times poorer.

For the first time, estimates of the proceeds of crime including prostitution, illegal drugs, diesel and cigarettes have been included in the accounts by the Central Statistics Office that prepares the Irish figures.

In the EU overall, Ireland has the third highest GDP at 30% over the EU average, behind Luxembourg which has more than double the average while the Netherlands is just slightly ahead of Ireland.

Eurostat’s figures divide the country into two regions — the south and east with 75% of the population and the border, midlands and west (BMW) covering almost half the country but with just 25% of the population.

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The GDP per person worked out in purchasing power standards (PPS) to allow for real comparisons, is €24,800 in the BMW region, while it is €18,000 more at €42,800 in the south and east.

Figures for the 13 BMW counties have increased by just €300 from 2006 to 2013 while they increased by €4,200 in the same period in the region that includes Dublin and Cork.

The figures reflect higher household incomes thanks to a greater number of industries and businesses that also generate bigger profits and pay higher salaries, the CSO explained, and also take into account investment by business including in R&D.

The GDP in PPS of the south and east at 146% is close to 50% more than the EU average while the BMW at 85% is below the average of 100% and closer to that of Slovenia.

According to the most recent county figures from the CSO on disposable household income per person in 2012, Dublin was in a league of its own, followed by Cork, Limerick and Kildare while the poorest were Laois, Offaly, Cavan, Monaghan, Roscommon and Donegal. The wealthier counties had the highest employment rates.

The inner city of London was the wealthiest region in the EU at more than three times the EU average but the country overall was just 9% above the EU average with six of the nine regions — and outer London — all being below the EU average. Northern Ireland was at 82%, Wales was the poorest region at 77% while Scotland was at 100%.

Five of Germany’s 16 regions were under the EU average as were six of France’s eight regions. Wealth was more evenly distributed in Sweden, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland with all their regions being above average.

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