New Business Formation: An Important Element of Ireland's Rapid Growth Experience?
The extraordinary growth of the Irish economy - the 'Celtic Tiger' - since the mid-1990s has attracted a great deal of interest, commentary and research. Indeed, many countries are now looking to Ireland as an economic development role model, and The Sapir Report (2003) has suggested that Ireland should be seen as providing key lessons for other EU countries with regards to realising the objectives set out in the Lisbon Agenda.Much of the discussion of Ireland's growth has focussed around growth triggers such as: the long term consequences of fiscal stabilisation of the late 1980s; EU structural funds; education; wage moderation; devaluations of the Irish punt. From an industrial policy perspective, the focus has been on the importance of FDI inflows and to a lesser extent on the performance of an indigenous stock of firms to Ireland's growth record. A notable absence from the industrial policy discourse on the 'Celtic Tiger' has been any consideration of the role of new business venture creation and entrepreneurship. In this paper we use unpublished annual Irish VAT data for the period 1988-2004 to provide the first detailed look at national and regional trends in business birth and death rates in Ireland. We also undertake a sub-national analysis of the Irish VAT data to understand more clearly the importance of new venture creation to past and emerging spatial trends in Ireland. Our conclusion is that new business formation made no detectable contribution to the acceleration of Ireland's growth in the late 1990s.
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