Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Is Ireland expensive?

It sometimes seems that Irish people judge whether the Republic is an expensive place by reference to the UK, or more specifically London. A comparison guaranteed* to make the Republic look cheap. But one interesting side effect of the wider travel horizons of the last 15 years -- and the Eurozone -- has been to make clear the relatively high prices in the Republic compared to the rest of the Europe.

One problem with living on an island though is that it's not easy to take advantage of price differentials. Hence an interesting case like petrol and diesel prices where, in what must have Gordon Brown fuming, there is a huge cross-border trade (Northern Irish consumers buying in the Republic), because fuel is cheaper in the Republic.

But on a Europe-wide comparison, the Republic is not that cheap. Those angry lorry drivers should be filling up in Luxembourg, if they could.

*UPDATE 23 JANUARY 2009: The Sterling crash is changing the assumption that a UK comparison makes Ireland look cheap. And for anyone wanting real in-depth data on relative prices across countries, go here. As of their November data, only Denmark and Switzerland among OECD countries were more expensive than Ireland.

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