Most public spending goes on the young and the old. Spending priorities for the next Government should be informed by the very unusual age structure of our population. Given the age structure of our population, our spending on health looks very high and our spending on education seems low.
Age Distribution of the Population
Ireland has the highest proportion of the population in the EU aged under 15 and the lowest proportion aged both over 65 and over 80. The data are in Table 1
Table 1Source: Eurostat Demography Report
We have the highest percentage of population in the EU under 15 years of age and the lowest percentage of people age both over 65 and over 80. The share of younger people in Ireland is 40 per cent above the EU average and the share of older people is between 30 and 40 per cent lower. This should inform our spending priorities and suggests that our spending on health and pensions should be relatively low and our spending on education relatively high.
Spending on Services
What is the level of spending on the main services. This is shown in Table 2. Figures for the EU are shown as a percentage of GDP. For Ireland we use GNP1
Our spending on health and social protection (excluding pensions) is significantly higher than the Euro area average. Our spending on state pensions (this excludes public service occupational pensions) is not surprisingly substantially lower than in other countries while our education spending is slightly above the Euro area average.
Given the age structure of our population, our spending on health looks very high and our spending on education seems low.