Malcolm Gladwell On Ireland's Economic "Miracle"

Eddy Elfenbein over at CrossingWallStreet offers a funny and insightful comment today on the bloom coming off the (wild) Irish rose:

Not too long ago, Ireland was hailed as the European economic miracle. The country even got full Gladwell treatment (his explanation was the “dependency ratio,” Irish women were having fewer babies).

The Gladwell treatment! That indeed is the ultimate sign that a trend has become a full-blown phenomenon that must have some crazy explanation totally missed by normal observers. See, the idea that Ireland was growing rapidly due to free trade and deregulation was just too conventional for Malcom Gladwell, there had to be another explanation:

This relation between the number of people who aren’t of working age and the number of people who are is captured in the dependency ratio. In Ireland during the sixties, when contraception was illegal, there were 10 people who were too old or too young to work for every fourteen people in a position to earn a paycheck. That meant that the country was spending a large percentage of its resources on caring for the young and the old. Last year, Ireland’s dependency ratio hit an all-time low: for every 10 dependents, it had 20-two people of working age. That change coincides precisely with the country’s extraordinary economic surge.

So have the Demographics changed so dramatically in the last two years? We await the story about how Ireland sabotaged itself by indulging in a reckless baby boom.

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