The Different Consequences of State Funding Cuts to Irish HEIs

During the Celtic Tiger years, state investment in third level institutions in Ireland saw significant growth. This upward trend was maintained even within a short period after the collapse of the property bubble. It was the financial crisis of 2008 that dramatically overturned the pattern, with the national economy sharply declining.

For universities and IoTs, as well as a number of other private HEIs, the main consequence was the reduction of state funding, as part of the government’s measure to address the urgent issue of public debt.

In a few previous blog posts, I have described the extent of funding cuts in Ireland and compared national policies in this matter amongst the EU countries. A less examined topic is the consequence of state funding cuts at the institutional level.

It is reasonable to presume that some institutions could be more badly hit than the others, while the higher education sector was, undoubtedly, having a tough time as a whole. In this blog post, I compare such differences between Irish HEIs, with results presented for the university sector and the IoT sector separately, considering the fact that most IoTs are much smaller than universities in terms of size.

1 The university sector

Figures 1 and 2 below show the changes in the university sector in sources of income between 2005-06 and 2011-12.

In general, income increased in the first 3-year period and then declined in the second 3-year period. The only exception was fees, which increased throughout the whole period, reflecting the shift of policy focus on funding. For the 7 universities, state grants decreased by 35% between 2008-09 and 2011-12, while fees increased by 10%. By the end of 2011-12, fees accounted for 43% of total income, nearly double of the share of state grants.

Figure 1
Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 2

2. The IoT sector

Figures 3 and 4 below reveal the changes in the IoT sector. While most trends in this sector are similar to those in the university sector, there are still some differences.

For the 14 IoTs, state grants decreased by 27% between 2008-09 and 2011-12, while fees increased by just under 5%. By the end of 2011-12, state grants accounted for 45% of total income, which was higher than the share of fees (37%), and which was also significantly higher than that in the university sector (24%).

Figure 3
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 4

3. The 7 universities

In Figure 5 below, I show the changes in sources of income between 2008-09 and 2011-12 for the 7 universities, measured as percentage points.

The decrease of total income of NUIG – less than 15% – was the smallest in compared to the other 6 universities. DCU and UL were worst hit, with total income shrinking by nearly 35%. Reduction of state grants was most serious in the three largest institutions, namely UCD, UCC and TCD. While fees increased in all of the 7 universities, NUIG, MU and UL were the leaders in terms of receiving bigger amount of money paid by students. Lastly, UL was the only university which was able to secure more research grants in 2011-12 than in 2008-09, while the amount of research grants decreased by more than 20% in both UCD and TCD.

Figure 5
Figure 5
Figure 6
Figure 6
Figure 7
Figure 7
Figure 8
Figure 8

Figures 6, 7 and 8 above place the 7 universities in scatter plots, in the hope of revealing if there exist any association between the change in total income and each of the other factors.

A series of correlation analyses showed that the share of fees in total income was most significantly related to the change of total income (Correlation Coefficient = 0.78), while the share of state grants in total income was moderately related to the change of total income (Correlation Coefficient = 0.56). The share of research grants in total income was not significantly related to the change of total income (Correlation Coefficient = 0.24).

That research grants only having a limited impact on the overall change of total income was, in part, resulted by the fact that research grants only account for a small percentage of total income in all of the 7 universities.

4. The 14 IoTs

In Figure 9 below, I show the changes in sources of income between 2008-09 and 2011-12 for the 14 IoTs, measured as percentage points. At the sectoral level, IoTs were less badly hit by the state funding cuts than universities. During this period, a few IoTs actually saw their total income increasing, led by Limerick (14.6%), Dundalk (8.2%), Sligo (3.1%), Blanchardstown (2.4%), and, very moderately, Athlone (0.1%). This is a striking contrast to the picture of the university sector, in which all institutions saw their total income shrinking by more than 10% at least. Of course, many other IoTs did not perform as well as the above ones. Among the institutions with sharpest decline of total income were Letterkenny (-17.5%), Dublin (-16.1%), Galway-Mayo (-14.3%), and Tralee (-13.7%).

In terms of state grants, with the exception of Limerick, all the other IoTs saw their funding decreased, in line with what happened in universities.

Significant differences exist though between the IoT sector and the university sector when we examine the case of fees and research grants.

While all universities received more funding through tuition fees over the period, only a handful of IoTs – 5 to be exact – increased their income in this source. Athlone was most impressive, with its tuition fees increasing by nearly 40% during the period. An alarming issue could be that most IoTs were not as capable of universities in attracting fee-paying students, who are more likely to be international students.

While almost all universities – except for UL – saw their research grants decreased, the picture of the IoT sector was reasonably more promising. Research grants received by Limerick nearly doubled, while Dundalk saw its research income increased by more than 50%.

In general, there was much more diversity in the IoT sector than in the university sector.

Figure 9
Figure 9
Figure 10
Figure 10
Figure 11
Figure 11
Figure 12
Figure 12

 

Figures 10, 11 and 12 above place the 14 IoTs in scatter plots.

Similarly, a series of correlation analyses showed that the share of state grants in total income was significantly, but negatively, related to the change of total income (-0.51), suggesting that IoTs receiving more funding from state grants were more badly hit in terms of total income. The share of fees in total income was moderately related to the change of total income (0.35), while the share of research grants in total income was almost not related to the change of total income (-0.03).

5. Concluding remarks

It is clearly shown that, during the period of 2008-2011, institutions performed significantly differently in terms of maintaining their income. Some institutions, especially a number of IoTs, showed impressive resilience. Their stories could be very interesting to be examined further.

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Mapping Graduate Mobility

The UK evidence

In June 2013, the Foresight Future of Cities project was launched in the UK, as a key effort to develop an evidence base on the future of UK cities to inform decision-makers. During the last few years, I have closely followed the outputs of the project and enjoyed reading their analysis and reports.

Recently, the project’s 3 final outputs were released, one of which examines the role of graduate mobility in driving productivity of cities. An important part of the analysis is to understand the current patterns of graduate mobility, especially how each city (or each region) fares against its counterparts.

There are 4 categories of graduate mobility, as defined in the report: Incomers (neither lived or studied in the area previously), Returners (left the area to study and returned for work), Stayers (studied and stayed to work), and Loyals (lived, studied and stayed to work within the region).

Using the data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) on the destination of leavers from higher education, the report shows the workplace destinations of graduates from all higher education providers in England, Scotland and Wales.

Creative maps in the report creatively show proportional flows analysis of graduates from the 2013/2014 cohort to the seven cities selected by the project: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester. See these maps below.

 

Not surprisingly, London attracts graduates all over the UK. For instance, over 40% of graduates from Cambridge and Oxford choose to work in London. While Cambridge and Oxford may not be that far from London, the University of St Andrews, which is located in Scotland, is rather distant from the capital in the UK context. However, around one third of graduates from this Scottish university also relocated themselves in London for jobs. The other two large cities – Birmingham and Manchester are also able to attract some graduates from universities far away.

In contrast, smaller cities such as Cardiff are less successful in this regard. Cardiff itself has 3 universities: Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University and the University of South Wales. Even for these 3 universities, less than 30% of graduates choose to remain in Cardiff for work, while the rest 70% leave the Welsh capital. It might be true that graduate attraction is an important factor to look at, but for Cardiff, and other cities similar, an even more urgent issue is graduate retention.

In the last two decades, London has been enjoying comparatively high productivity and growth, while Wales (of which Cardiff the capital and the largest city) has been lagging behind the UK average in those indicators. There are strong positive correlations between the share of skilled workers in a city and the productivity growth of that city.

What about Ireland?

In the previous blog, I briefly mentioned the HEA report – What do Graduates Do? The Class of 2013. It offers insights into the first destination of graduates in Ireland, nine months after graduation. The 4th section of the report is about the regional distribution of employed graduates. However, regional of employment data was not available for Trinity College Dublin, this section presents information for only 6 Irish universities.

According to the report, “Dublin is the region with the most employment opportunities for graduates across all levels of qualification with 34% of Honours Bachelor Degree, 32% of Higher Diploma, 27% Graduate Diploma, 43% Taught Masters, 37% Research Masters and 32% of Doctorates employed in this region.” The following figures show the picture of Irish graduates.

Honours Bachelor Degree GraduatesHigher and Postgraduate Diploma GraduatesTaught Masters, Research Masters and Doctorate Graduates

In comparison to the HESA data, the HEA data do not allow us to carry out institutional level analysis, i.e. it is not possible for us to access the raw data of these surveys and understand graduate mobility between regions or cities. To be specific, we still don’t know, how many of those graduates now working in Dublin are from Dublin-based universities or from universities located outside the capital city. Further accessible data from the HEA, or other government organisations that hold relevant data, should be welcomed.

Do we have an over-supply of graduates in Ireland? (Part 2/2)

In line with what is shown in Foley and Brinkley (2015), in this blog I search for empirical evidence in an attempt to answer the question of over-supply of graduates in Ireland. As stated in the previous blog, there would be a couple of likely consequences if there exists an over-supply of graduates. These consequences, or scenarios, are examined in much detail one by one as follows.

1. An increase in rates of graduate unemployment

Data on graduate unemployment rate is not readily available in the case of Ireland, as far as I am aware. The ONS in the UK has been releasing ‘Graduates in the UK Labour Market’ reports for a long period which enable the analysis of graduate employability. Instead, I compare unemployment rates of the labour force by level of education in Ireland between 2002 and 2012. As there seem slight changes in the way third level degrees are identified in early 2009, I present the results in two periods respectively. Nonetheless, the changes are small, and the overall trend remains.

Unemployment Rate 2002Q4 to 2009Q1
Figure 1
Unemployment Rate 2009Q2 to 2012Q2
Figure 2

It is obvious from these two figures that unemployment rates of persons with third level education are consistently lower than those of persons without. This finding is in line with international evidence.

Since 2008 there have been increases of unemployment rates across all groups, which is not surprising due to the challenging economic conditions. Even though unemployment rates of persons with third level education increased after the economic crisis, it does not suffice to argue it is resulted by an over-supply of graduates. As Foley and Brinkley (2015) similarly argued that the situation could be ‘in fact more a function of wider labour market conditions’.

As Figure 2 clearly shows, while unemployment rates of persons with third level education more or less stabilised since 2009 although they did not decline significantly either (which was the case in the UK). However, it could be claimed that unemployment rates of persons without third level education continued to worsen after the economic crisis, suggesting that graduates were still in a relatively better place than the others in the workforce.

2. A decrease in the graduate wage premium

Generally, the graduate wage premium refers to the average increase in earnings graduates can expect when compared to their non-graduate counterparts. Foley and Brinkley (2015) suggested that, ‘Oversupply of graduates would lead to a reduction in this figure, as graduates were forced down the rungs of the labour market.’

Relative earnings of tertiary-education workers 2013
Figure 3

As Figure 3 shows, relative earnings of tertiary-educated workers across the OECD countries are impressive, with Ireland ranked amongst the countries with the highest graduate wage premium. In Ireland, persons with tertiary education earned nearly 1.8 times of what earned by persons without university degrees.

More relevantly, we would like to know how this figure changes across years. In the following table, I use the OECD data to compare the trends in relative earning of tertiary-educated workers in Ireland with those in the OECD countries and the EU-21 countries between 2005 and 2013.

Table 1: Trends in relative earnings of tertiary-education workers (2005, 2010-2013)

2005 2010 2011 2012 2013
Ireland 177 175 176 182 190
OECD 154 155 159 156 156
EU-21 160 159 156 159 157

Note: 25-64 year-olds with income from employment; upper secondary education and post-secondary non-tertiary = 100.

In the EU-21 countries, relative earnings decreased slightly during the period, while thost in the OECD countries only increased by a margin. By contrast, the figure in Ireland increased significantly, with relative earnings of graduates increasing from 177 in 2005 to 190 in 2013. This clearly indicates that graduate wage premium has become more prominent in the Irish context, which is against the suggestion that there is an over-supply of graduates in Ireland.

3. What about graduate emigration?

For the analysis of Ireland, emigration is a factor that cannot be overlooked. On the national level, around 480,000 people left Ireland between April 2008 and April 2014, while a total of 338,000 came to Ireland as immigrants over the same period, suggesting that there are 141,000 net migrants who left the country in the six-year period.

It is not hard to assume that graduates in Ireland are probably more likely than the others to emigrate, given that tertiary-educated workers are in general more mobile than those without university degrees.

In 2013, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) released a publication on the destination of graduates, which shows that, “Of those graduates in employment those gaining employment overseas doubled over the last five years from 5% of the 2008 graduates to 10% of the 2012 graduates reflecting the continued need for graduates to pursue opportunities overseas, a trend that is likely due to the current economic climate in Ireland.”

Surely, the figures shown in the 1st and 2nd parts will change if these graduates would have remained in the Irish labour market, but an accurate estimation is impossible to get. In 2011/12, there were a total of 60,000 graduates from all subjects in all HEA-funded HEIs. Of these 60,000 graduates, just under 50% of them were in employment after graduation (as the rest chose to pursue further studies), which gives us 30,000 graduates in the workforce. If 10% of them emigrated from Ireland, the number would be 3,000.

Therefore, a simple question would be, if these 3,000 graduates have stayed in Ireland to seek employment, how would the whole picture change? To answer this question, we definitely need a lot more data, such as the demand from industries and the employability of graduates, which are currently missing.

Although I agree that it is likely the unemployment rates of graduates could rise up if there are more graduates entering the labour market than it is (if we think the demand of industry is stable at a certain point of time), the majority of existing data tend to argue that there is not an over-supply of graduates in Ireland.

Do we have an over-supply of graduates in Ireland? (Part 1/2)

The debate on if there is an over-supply of graduates in Ireland has been ongoing for some time. I remember myself attending an event last year, in which a number of speakers addressed this issue, analysing from different perspectives and coming to different conclusions. If we consider the complexity of the issue, e.g. the number of factors at play and the limitations of research approaches used, the disagreement is not surprising.

On 7th June, 2015, the Irish Times published an article on the aforementioned disagreement (http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/overqualified-workers-who-know-too-much-1.2237279).

On the one hand, the article referenced the results of studies by ESRI researchers which show that “Ireland emerged as having the highest rate of ‘overeducation’ in Europe”, with one of the authors suggesting part of the reason is that, “It could be there are too many graduates”.

On the other hand, the article cited Tom Boland, the chief executive of the HEA, who said: “Once you talk about overeducation then you are into how many are you going to educate, and then you are into a quota. And if you are going to come up with a ceiling on numbers then you might exclude someone who is going to come up with the cure for cancer; you just don’t know.”

Put simply, I think these two arguments are made from different points of view, both have some supportive evidence, but, it seems to me, one cannot be used to reject the other.

The concept of overeducation adopted by ESRI researchers is usually tested through questionnaires sent to either employees or employers, who then indicate if a specific job requires graduate knowledge or skills and if the person who is doing this job has a graduate education or not. When a graduate takes up a job which is considered, either by this graduate himself or her/his employer, not to require graduate knowledge or skills, it is concluded that this graduate is overeducated, as he ends up with a ‘non-graduate’ job. Nonetheless, the reason put forward by Tom Boland is not from this approach but based on the “who should or who should not attend higher education” debate. It is a hard question to answer, definitely if one wants to have a concrete numeric answer.

A recently published work by the Work Foundation in the UK – titled “Unemployed and overqualified? Graduates in the UK labour market” – provides some insightful evidence on this debate in the context of the UK.

In particular, the authors provided the following thinking: “If the overall supply of graduates was indeed outstripping aggregate demand, there would be several likely consequences. The first would be an increase in rates of graduate unemployment, especially amongst the more recent cohorts entering the labour market. The second would be some displacement of less skilled employees, as graduates struggling to enter the labour market were prepared to look for work outside of ‘graduate’ roles. This, in turn, would lead to a reduction in the additional ‘wage premium’ that graduates can expect to earn over the course of their working lives.”

The authors then continued to assess the evidence to assess the merits of the claim over the course of two decades between 1992 and 2011. In short, the response to the question that if there is an over-supply problem in the UK was no. The rise in graduate unemployment in most OECD economies, the UK included, is almost to do with cyclical factors and has very little if anything to do with an over-supply of highly qualified labour. Also, while supply has continued to expand at a rapid rate in the UK, it has not resulted in a significant change in relative wages: the graduate premium is significant in all OECD economies and has not declined over the last decade.

Although the authors cautiously pointed that this does not necessarily mean that the higher education sector functions fully effectively, there is no evidence to suggest the existence of an over-supply of graduates in the UK.

Then, for us, the question is, what is the evidence in Ireland? Whether or not the situation here is different from its UK counterpart on this issue? In the next blog, I will present more details of data analysis.

(To be continued.)

To do how much more with how much less? A review of the QQI review

Recently, the QQI (Quality and Qualifications Ireland) published a report entitled ‘Quality in an era of diminishing resources’, which was commissioned to provide a thematic overview of the commentary in institution-led quality review reports on the impact of the reduction in funding to institutions on the quality of learning and teaching in the Irish higher education system over the seven-year period from 2008-2015.

For most, it is no secret that the higher education sector in Ireland has been undergoing serious funding cuts, as part of the Government’s austerity measures to come out of the economic downturn arising from the global crisis in 2008. The report references the speech given by Tom Boland, the Chief Executive of the Higher Education Authority (HEA), at a conference in September 2015 on the Future Funding of Higher Education in Ireland organised by the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) to summarise the funding context of the Irish higher education sector:

“Over the period 2007/08 to 2014/15: There has been a fall in state grants for higher education of 38%. Overall funding for higher education has fallen by at least 13.5%. The overall number of full-time students has increased by 25%. This has all resulted in an overall decrease in the total funding per student of 22% (from €11,000 to €9,000). At the same time the numbers employed in higher education institutions fell by 13%. In real terms the situation is worse because if we had maintained staffing ratios as they were at the beginning of the crisis we have effectively taken 4,000 staff out of the system.”

The main content of the report is organised into three key themes: 1) The general economic climate and reduced resources; 2) Staffing and the student learning experience; and 3) The learning and teaching environment. Evidence from the report points to “the cumulative effects of reduced funding, reduced staff numbers, increased teaching burdens, the casualisation of staffing and promotion limitations for staff”.

As the report indicates, most institutions have claimed that, like this unit has reported, “staff appear to have coped remarkably well with the additional work pressures that have resulted from the need to expand student numbers at a time of reduced funding”.

This is what is usually called ‘Doing More with Less’. Remaining staff, because of their commitment and ‘sense of duty’ to their roles in order to minimise the effect on the student learning experience, may take on more responsibilities in the face of increasing pressures. One has to ask, even though it seems staff seem to be able to do so, is it preferable or sustainable to keep this way? The same unit has raised its concern by saying, “the [HEI] must recognise that there are practical limits to the requirement to ‘do more with less'”.

Tom Boland at the RIA conference listed two possible scenarios for the Irish higher education system which directly address this ‘do more with less’ problem: “Do we have a system which is now much more efficient, developing the same quality of graduates and delivering the same excellence in research for significantly less resource, or do we have a system now characterised by poor infrastructure, a decline in quality and which is severaly at rish of breakding down unless the trend of underinvestment is reversed?”

It is clear from the QQI report that the second scenario is more likely as it warns, “What is striking is the general impression from some reports that some units have reached a ‘crisis point’ where continued cuts/reductions may have serious and irretrievable implications for their future sustainability.” This echoes the finding of the 2015 Cassells Group discussion paper, which contends that “a continuation of the existing funding level for higher education is not an option if Ireland wishes to ensure quality across all disciplines and activities”.

Although it sounds cheerful when one says we can do more with less, in the long term, it is harmful to staff, students, and the sector, as it simple is not sustainable to ‘overuse’ the human resources, definitely not when the reductions in resources negatively impact teaching, learning and research activities.

(The full QQI report could be downloaded here: http://www.qqi.ie//Pages/Quality-in-an-Era-of-Diminishing-Resources-Report-.aspx)

 

Impact of the Economic Crisis on European Universities

Across Europe, countries have implemented different policies and practices to deal with the economic crisis of 2007. Those policies and practices, in consequence, have different impacts on the higher education sector. Many reports by the European University Association (EUA) have presented such results.

Skrbinjek and Lesjak (2013), largely based on the EUA reports and with a special focus on the case of Slovenia, conducted a categorisation of European countries according to changes in public expenditure on tertiary education between 2008 and 2012 and according to investment in tertiary education in 2007 (as measured in % of GDP).

Table 1 below presents the results and distinguishes a total of 6 groups of countries which show complex and diverse responses to the crisis.

Table 1: Changes in tertiary education funding in European countries in 2008-2012

Changes in public expenditure on tertiary education (2008-2012)

Stable or increase Decrease

Public expenditure on tertiary education in 2007

High

(>1.3% of GDP)

Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden Iceland, Netherlands
Medium

(1.0-1.29% of GDP)

France, Germany, Switzerland Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia
Low

(<1.0% of GDP)

Poland, Slovakia Greece, Italy, Latvia, Spain, United Kingdom

Source: Skrbinjek and Lesjak (2013).

As shown in Table 1, 11 countries maintained or managed to increase the level of public expenditure on tertiary education between 2008 and 2012, while another 15 countries decreased the investment in the sector.

With the exception of Iceland, all of Nordic countries provided stable or increased funding for their tertiary sector over the period, and all of these countries have a high level of public expenditure on the sector. France, Germany and Switzerland, with a medium level of public expenditure on the sector, were also able to increase funding for their tertiary education sector. Poland and Slovakia were another two impressive countries.

During the period of 2008-2012, 12 out of 15 countries decreased public funding for tertiary education by more than 10% and the rest 3 countries up to 10%.

At first glance, it is hard to tell what impact does increasing or decreasing public expenditure on tertiary education have on the recovery of the national economy (see Table 1 in the previous blog: https://tionchar.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/recession-and-recovery-in-europe-where-ireland-stands/). Many countries which have reduced public expenditure on tertiary education were also able to make a strong recovery from the economic crisis.

Recession and Recovery in Europe: Where Ireland Stands?

In Ireland, there are many studies which have examined the spatial patterns of economic recession and the following recovery between its own regions (see also a previous blog I have written on this here: https://tionchar.wordpress.com/2015/07/03/bounce-back-economic-resilience-of-irish-regions-part-12/). In comparison, fewer papers have tended to map the recession and recovery in Europe while, at the same time, identifying the position of Ireland among the EU-28 states.

However, this task is crucial, for although Ireland has a relatively small economy, it has a rather open economy. On the one hand, with a strong presence of multinational technology companies (mainly from the U.S.), the Irish economy is impacted by international economic circumstances. On the other hand, Ireland is deeply integrated into the European market as it is a longstanding member of the EEA, the EU, and the Eurozone. It suffices to say that Ireland benefits most when its trading partners are performing well.

On March 10, 2016. the Central Statistics Office (CSO) published the latest quarterly national accounts, which show that Ireland’s economy grew by 7.8 per cent in 2015, outstripping all other Eurozone countries. It was also made clear that the strong recovery was a result of increases in both domestic demand and export trade. Therefore, external factors play the same, if not more, roles in driving economic recovery as internal factors do.

The analysis was based on Eurostat databases covering a decade of 2005-2015. The period was divided into two stages: 2005-2010 (to capture recession) and 2010-2015 (to measure recovery).

image (23)
Figure 1

Figure 1 shows the change of GDP in EU-28 countries between 2005 and 2010. While some countries were terribly hit by the economic crisis of 2008, a few countries actually managed to grow their economies over the whole period.

In Figure 2 below, I compare the balance between the index of 2010 and the maximum index of the period between 2005 and 2009. While the index of 2010 is set as 100 for all countries, the maximum index of the period between 2005 and 2009 refers to the peaking amount of GDP in each country. Then, the balance between these two values means the depth of recession.

image (25)
Figure 2

The depth of recession varies significantly between countries. The GDP shrank by more than 20 per cent between 2005 and 2010 in Latvia and Estonia, followed by countries such as Lithuania, Greece, Croatia, Romania and Ireland. In particular, Ireland was at the bottom 7 countries that have been most significantly hit by the recession. Economy in France and Sweden was only slighted weakened by the recession. Three countries, namely Belgium, Malta and Poland, were able to grow their economy until the end of 2010 in face of the crisis.

Similar to the case of recession, the recovery process if full of differences among the EU-28 countries. Figure 3 illustrates these differences.

image (24)
Figure 3

An interesting result in Figure 3 is that gaps between the best performing countries and the worst performing countries have been widening over this period. While many countries have been making progress from 2010 onwards, a few others continued to struggle with the after shock of the recession, which hit the economy even further after 2010. This means that the longevity of the recession is rather different between countries, with some states still in the middle of it.

image (26)
Figure 4

In Figure 4 above, I compare the balance between the index of 2015 and the index of 2010 (see Figure 3 for the index) to show the scale of recovery. Malta leads the rankings of countries in recovery, followed by Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Ireland. Ireland, which was badly hit by the recession, came back strong, with its economy growing by around 17 percent between 2010 and 2015. Countries such as Spain, Italy and Greece have not recovered from the crisis after five years. In Figure 2, we can see that Cyprus was only very slightly hit by the recession, but what Figure 4 seems to suggest is that, for Cyprus, the ‘real’ recession took place in the last few years, later than its other EU counterparts.

Finally, I would like to draw a table to comprehensively describe the recession and recovery patterns of the EU-28 countries, by combining results from both Figure 2 and Figure 4. The table is a 3*3 matrix, with one axis the depth of recession and the other axis the scale of recovery. For each axis, I group the countries into 3 groups by the level of recession or recovery. The exact categorisation method as well as the results could be seen in Table 1 below.

Picture2
Table 1

Ireland is among countries such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania in the top left block – ‘Deep Recession, Strong Recovery’. This group has the most impressive turnaround to make out of the recession. Croatia, Finland, Greece and Italy were also badly hit during the crisis, and are still trying to get back to pre-crisis level. United Kingdom and Spain are two countries which show up in their respective blocks alone, separating themselves from the other countries.

In general, this table is useful in showing the relative performance of European countries in dealing with the economic crisis. More research could be undertaken to compare a certain group of countries, such as small open economy countries.