ECONOMIC INSIGHTS

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HOW BIG IS

IRELAND’S PUBLIC/

PRIVATE PAY GAP?

The average Irish public sector wage was €47,400

in 2016, 40% higher than in the private sector. At

most, around half of this pay gap (or 20%) can be

attributed to differences in education, experience

and qualifications. Average public sector pay in

the UK is £26,200 (€30,800) – almost exactly in

line with the private sector and far below levels in

Ireland. Ireland’s public/private sector pay gap is

on a par with southern European countries such as

Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain.

The public sector also enjoys retirement benefits

that need to be taken into consideration. On our

calculations, a private sector worker would need

to save a €590,000 pension to match the same

€23,000 paid per annum to public sector workers

when they retire on a career-average salary scheme.

The figures are higher for those with defined benefit

pensions linked to their final salary.

Figure 1: Irish and UK public/private sector wages, €000s

50

000s

47.4

45

40

35

30

33.9

30.7

30.8

25

20

Private Sector

Ireland

United Kingdom

Source: Central Statistics Office; Office for National Statistics

Public Sector

Table 1: Irish and UK average annual earnings

Public sector

Private sector

Average annual earnings

Ireland €47,400 €33,900

UK (€) €30,800 €30,700

UK (£) £26,200 £26,300

Average hourly earnings

Ireland €28.1 €20.3

Source: Central Statistics Office; Office for National Statistics

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