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The Political Economy of a Northern Ireland Border Poll


  • McGuinness, Seamus

    () (Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin)

  • Bergin, Adele

    () (ESRI, Dublin)


Given the increased prominence of a border poll in Ireland, particularly following the outcome of the Brexit referendum, this paper provides an initial assessment of some of the issues that are likely to become central in any debate on this issue. We examine the relative income and growth position of Northern Ireland within a UK and Irish regional framework over time. We further compare, and contrast, in detail aspects of the structure of both economies on the island of Ireland in the areas of educational attainment, trade orientation and the role of FDI. The paper goes on to analyse other relevant issues, such as the relative strength and weaknesses of the healthcare systems and the factors determining the potential economic cost of Irish unification. The objective of the research is to initiate an evidence-based approach to the question of a border poll and to provide an initial indication of the breadth of detail and analysis required for any debate to proceed in a meaningful manner.

Suggested Citation

  • McGuinness, Seamus & Bergin, Adele, 2019. "The Political Economy of a Northern Ireland Border Poll," IZA Discussion Papers 12496, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp12496

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rowthorn, Bob, 1981. "Northern Ireland: An Economy in Crisis," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 1-31, March.
    2. Wren, Maev-Ann & Connolly, Sheelagh & Cunningham, Nathan, 2015. "An Examination of the Potential Costs of Universal Health Insurance in Ireland," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number RS45, November.
    3. John FitzGerald, 2020. "National Accounts for a Global Economy: The Case of Ireland," NBER Chapters, in: The Challenges of Globalization in the Measurement of National Accounts, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Michie, Jonathan & Sheehan, Maura, 1998. "The Political Economy of a Divided Ireland," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(2), pages 243-259, March.
    5. McQuinn, Kieran & O’Toole, Conor & Allen-Coghlan, Matthew & Economides, Philip, 2019. "Quarterly Economic Commentary, Spring 2019," Forecasting Report, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number QEC.
    6. Seamus Mcguinness & Maura Sheehan, 1998. "Regional convergence in the UK, 1970-1995," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(10), pages 653-658.
    7. Bergin, Adele & Economides, Philip & Garcia-Rodriguez, Abian & Murphy, Gavin, 2019. "Ireland and Brexit: modelling the impact of deal and no-deal scenarios," Quarterly Economic Commentary: Special Articles, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
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    More about this item


    Northern Ireland; Brexit; border poll;

    JEL classification:

    • P52 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Studies of Particular Economies
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • R10 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General

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