Articles tagged with: Economics

Republic of Opportunity or State of Insecurity?

on Tuesday, 09 January 2018. Posted in Issue 81 Young Adults in Ireland Today, 2017

PdfIconRepublic of Opportunity or State of Insecurity?

James Doorley


On the day of his election as An Taoiseach (June 14th 2017), Leo Varadkar T.D. spoke about creating a ‘republic of opportunity’.1 Although an admirable vision for the country, the evidence suggests that Irish society has a long way to go to make such noble ambitions a reality, particularly for unemployed young people and those struggling to find decent employment. Nearly a decade on from the economic crisis of 2008, Ireland is a different country; the scars of the economic recession are felt through unemployment, debt, cuts in income supports and the withdrawal of social services. As noted by both the National Economic and Social Council (NESC)2 and OECD3 young adults were particularly hard hit by factors such as reduced employment opportunities and insufficient quality education and training opportunities. Ten years on, some analysts argue that Ireland has recovered from the ‘lost decade’ and with this, there may be a perception that the situation for young people in Ireland has improved.4 However, many young people in Ireland still feel marginalised by the economic crisis,5 and increasingly, young people are at the frontline of a radical change in the nature of the labour market, such that in many sectors, the old model of permanent contracts and fixed hours has been replaced by precarious employment.6


Decent Work: Implications for Equality and Social Justice

on Sunday, 11 December 2016. Posted in Issue 79 Justice in the Global Economy, Poverty & Inequality, Economics

James Wickham

pdfDecent Work: Implications for Equality and Social Justice

The idea that any job is better than no job is increasingly debatable, and the assumptions that have guided employment policy for decades no longer hold.

There is not much point in wanting to return to a golden past of straightforwardly good jobs, perhaps in the 1960s and 1970s, because they never existed. However, while in many ways work has got better, there has been a crucial deterioration in other aspects of work. Firstly, the very types of jobs that are being created are now part of a process of growing inequality. Secondly, much employment is insecure and precarious, and this means that many of the reasons why employment was seen as desirable are simply not valid anymore.

Justice in the Global Economy: What It Means for Earth-Care

on Sunday, 11 December 2016. Posted in Issue 79 Justice in the Global Economy, Environment, Economics

Catherine Devitt

pdfJustice in the Global Economy: What It Means for Earth-Care

The Report, Justice in the Global Economy, highlights the inter-relationship between environmental justice and economic justice. It points out that ‘the rate of extraction of natural resources cannot be sustained’ and warns that if consumption continues at the current pace ‘we face severe menaces to both ecological stability and human well-being’. It notes also that: ‘The harmful consequences of over-use and misuse of resources are ... unequally distributed’.1 

Justice in the Global Economy: A Theological Reflection

on Friday, 09 December 2016. Posted in Issue 79 Justice in the Global Economy, Economics, Church

Gerry O’Hanlon SJ

PdfIconJustice in the Global Economy: A Theological Reflection

Justice in the Global Economy is a concise account of the crisis which humanity is currently facing: ‘We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental’ (Laudato Si’, § 139). Of particular interest is the recommendation that Jesuits and colleagues have direct engagement with poorer communities and, in particular, that we turn ‘our institutions into instruments for economic justice’.1 The latter is spelled out in terms of harnessing research resources and advancing knowledge in favour of poorer people, networking to focus on policy issues, lobbying in this direction, and realising the potential of our professional schools in faculty, students and alumni to bring about changes to the status quo.2

Reflections from an Ignatian Educational Perspective

on Thursday, 08 December 2016. Posted in Issue 79 Justice in the Global Economy, Economics

Brian Flannery

PdfIconReflections from an Ignatian Educational Perspective

The Report, Justice in the Global Economy, is a call to action. Whilst it combines the clarity and scholarship of an academic paper, its underlying tone conveys urgency. The Report calls on all of us in Jesuit works to wake up to the realities that humankind is facing and asks that as individuals, organisations, and institutions we turn our attention and energy to addressing these global challenges immediately.

This study and the urgency of its message is clearly stimulated by various statements of Pope Francis who is quoted as calling on all Christians to fight against ‘an economy that kills’ and to address ‘the structural causes of inequality’.1 The Pope sees humankind as being at a pivotal point in history where, despite economic advancements, sizeable parts of the world’s population are excluded from economic prosperity, are socially isolated and live in poverty.

Household Wealth and its Distribution in Ireland

on Wednesday, 03 December 2014. Posted in Issue 75 Inequality Matters

PdfIconHousehold Wealth and its Distribution in Ireland

Tom McDonnell


We do not know the distribution of household wealth in Ireland. The reason is straightforward. We do not yet have sufficiently high-quality data usable for distributional analysis – the type of analysis that would allow us to know what groups within society own what share of wealth. We cannot even be certain about aggregate net wealth in Ireland or of the composition of wealth by asset type. 

Household balance sheet data, such as quarterly accounts data, is of minimal use for distributional analysis as it provides only aggregate data and excludes certain types of asset. On the other hand, survey data contain systemic biases due to the undervaluation and/or omission of certain asset types – for example, financial and personal assets. 

Interview with Thomas Piketty, Author of Capital in the 21st Century

on Monday, 01 December 2014. Posted in Issue 75 Inequality Matters

PdfIconInterview with Thomas Piketty, Author of Capital in the 21st Century

Jean Merckaert and Jean Vettraino


Thomas Piketty is an economist. He is director of studies at the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences in Paris and a professor at the Paris School of Economics. His research focuses on economic inequalities. His most recent book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century,1 has generated lively debate in the United States and Europe.

In Capital in the 21st Century, Thomas Piketty shows that the rich get richer more quickly than the rest of society, in an almost mechanical fashion. In his view, the main driver of inequality is the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth. He makes the case for a progressive taxation – including income tax, inheritance taxation and a yearly tax on capital. Is this possible at a national level? Is it realistic in an era of tax havens? Would it be enough to reduce inequalities? 


The Social Dimension of Europe: Withered on the Vine?

on Wednesday, 14 May 2014. Posted in Issue 74 Issues for the New EU Parliament?

pdfThe Social Dimension of Europe: Withered on the Vine?


There is obvious disenchantment among Europeans with ‘Project Europe’. This is largely due to a feeling that the social dimension of the project is being sacrificed in the interests of the economic dimension, while at the same time the supposed benefits of ‘free and undistorted’ competition are not forthcoming.

The Meaning of Dublin's Great Lockout 1913

on Friday, 14 March 2014. Posted in Issue 73 The Rights of Workers – Then and Now, Poverty & Inequality, Economics

Brendan Mac Partlin SJ

Food parcel docket, 1913.
Courtesy of B. MacPartlin SJ

Every person has a right to purposeful activity and a living income. The people of central Dublin were deprived of these rights when they were locked out of work with little or no income for four months in 1913. In remembering this tragic event I will try to situate it in a context of labour relations. Although the past is a foreign country, the core issues of the dispute remain and are being played out at a global level. The exclusion of the people of central Dublin in 1913 is a case that might throw light on the exclusion of vast numbers of people in today’s world and suggest pathways towards sustainable relations.

What Next for Social Enterprise in Ireland?

on Friday, 14 March 2014. Posted in Issue 73 The Rights of Workers – Then and Now, Poverty & Inequality, Economics

 Gerard Doyle and Tanya Lalor



Wind and solar enegy farm.       © iStock Photo

Since the 1990s, the concept of ‘social enterprise’ has gained momentum throughout Europe as a mechanism of addressing unmet community needs,1 providing employment, and stimulating local economic activity. Social enterprises have their origins in the co-operative and self-help sectors, and often strive to ensure local communities have a degree of economic self-determination. Social enterprises are part of the ‘social economy’ or the ‘third sector’ which includes an array of community and voluntary organisations. Some social enterprises are involved primarily in trading or enterprise activity, bringing a product or service to a market, but differing from a private enterprise in that any profit accruing is directed to the benefit of the community.

Restoring the Fabric of Irish Economic and Social Life – A Theological Reflection (Part Two)

on Wednesday, 12 March 2014. Posted in Issue 73 The Rights of Workers – Then and Now, Economics, Church

Gerry O'Hanlon SJ

For Part One of this article click here.


In Part One of this article,1 I discussed some of the core features of the currently dominant economic model and the part they played in bringing about our prolonged economic crisis. In particular, I raised questions regarding the overarching role accorded to ‘the market’ and the increase in the size and reach of the financial sector; the growth in inequality in incomes and wealth; and the underlying assumption that ‘growth is good’. I suggested, in Part One, that there is need to construct a ‘redemption narrative’ which can offer ‘vision and hope, galvanising our society towards effective action’. In this second part, I will look at the socio-cultural, political and theological resources which might contribute to that process.

Ethical Finance

on Thursday, 18 April 2013. Posted in Issue 71 Waiting for Asylum Decisions, Economics


Investment not just a matter of financial risk and reward © iStock
Investment not just a matter of financial
risk and reward                           © iStock


Many Christians in Ireland, either individually or as members of organisations, have long been campaigning for greater justice and transparency in economic and financial activity. During the ‘boom’ times they may well have felt like the biblical voice crying out in the wilderness; today, however, in the wake of successive financial scandals, discussion of ‘ethical finance’ has gained new momentum and immediacy.

Prior to the global financial crisis, if you were to ask people in Ireland what they understood by ethical finance, it is likely that most responses would have made reference to the need to protect vulnerable communities in the developing world. Now the devastating consequences of unethical financial practices have been experienced in a very real way much closer to home. As a result, we have seen rising public demand for radical reform aimed at ensuring that the financial sector serves the interests of society, and not the other way round.

Restoring the Fabric of Irish Economic and Social Life: A Theological Reflection (Part One)

on Friday, 19 April 2013. Posted in Issue 71 Waiting for Asylum Decisions

Banking or gambling? © iStock
Banking or gambling?                  © iStock



Writing in the euphoric aftermath of the visits of Queen Elizabeth II and of President Barack Obama in May 2011, but in the context of the ongoing economic crisis, clinical psychologist, Maureen Gaffney, noted that people respond to big crises in two main ways – ‘by constructing redemption stories or contamination stories’, and said that ‘these stories significantly affect how people respond to the crisis’.1

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We tend to think that law defines what crime is. This makes sense because contemporary legal codes are concerned with marking out the territory where conduct is permissible by specifying the conduct that is outlawed. Yet the earliest bodies of law – consider for example, the Torah or Hammurabi’s Code – are at least as committed to articulating the good as proscribing the bad... Read full editorial

Working Notes is a journal published by the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. The journal focuses on social, economic and theological analysis of Irish society. It has been produced since 1987.