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Press Release

Department of Finance wins award for best piece of fiscal-related research in 2018

Published: 29 November 2019
From: Department of Finance

Department of Finance wins award for best piece of fiscal-related research in 2018

This week officials from the Department of Finance were awarded the Miriam Hederman O’Brien Prize for their research on productivity in Ireland. This prize is awarded by the Foundation for Fiscal Studies and recognises outstanding contributions in the area of Irish fiscal policy.

The work was published by Brendan O’Connor and Luke Rehill (Principal Officer and Administrative Officer at the Department respectively) and by Javier Papa (formerly of the Department)

Productivity is generally acknowledged as the most important driver of living standards, though growth has been stagnating and in some cases declining across advanced economies in recent decades. The Department’s research - Patterns of Firm-Level Productivity in Ireland – noted that Ireland is a high productivity economy but found that most of this can be accounted for by a small group of highly productive firms.

More specifically, it found that the gap between the most and least productive firms in Ireland was widening and also identified declining productivity for many firms, with negative implications for future living standards.

This research formed the OECD’s evidence-base for policy recommendations in the area of productivity in its 2018 Economic Survey of Ireland. It is also informing the productivity reforms in the Government’s recent Future Jobs Ireland strategy, one of the aims of which is to unblock the productivity potential of Irish businesses. The overall objective of the strategy is to ensure the resilience of the Irish economy and to prepare the future jobs market so that we are better placed to cope with technological change and other challenges

Commenting on the Department’s success, the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe TD said:

‘Productivity is widely regarded as one of the most important economic indicators of a country's ability to improve living standards, and will become even more important for Ireland as the economy closes in on full employment. The work carried out by Brendan and Luke is a crucial piece of work in that regard and is already having an impact in terms of informing the approach the Government is taking to ensure we are have a jobs market that is ready for the future’.

Secretary General of the Department of Finance, Derek Moran said:

‘The research carried out by the Department has enabled us to go beyond looking at headline figures of productivity in Ireland, which are typically inflated by the activities of multinationals, to understand and assess the trends across firms. The award this week recognises the value and influence of this work’.