The socio-economic costs of unemployment in Ireland with particular reference to the Arigna mining community
The objective of this thesis is to investigate the socio-economic costs of unemployment in Ireland. These are the related social costs of unemployment in terms of poverty, ill health, inadequate education and training. On the economic side, these are the costs to the economy as a whole in lost output, the costs to the exchequer in terms of financing unemployment assistance/benefit, non-payment of taxes, training costs and administration costs of social welfare and training. The survey population was confined to those made redundant from the Arigna mines. At the time of interviewing; 58% of those made redundant were unemployed while some of the 42% were re-employed in temporary positions. The unemployed experienced much greater difficulties since the closure in providing for food, clothes, education, household items and family outings. The closure appeared to have a more substantial and damaging effect on the psychological health of those made redundant who are unemployed, than on those who are re-employed. Over half of those interviewed took part in re-training, but only 46% felt they had gained a skill as a result. The cost analysis suggests that in the short run the mines could have continued to operate at no additional cost to the exchequer and considerable savings could have been made in terms of reduced benefits, labour market payments, higher tax receipts and increased output. The question must therefore be asked “should the Arigna mines not have been supported by the state until alternative employment was found for its workforce?” The scale of Irish unemployment represents a major exchequer cost estimated at £3.3 billion in 1996, while output lost was estimated at £2.3 billion bringing the total economic cost of unemployment to £5.6 billion. In order to solve the problem of unemployment we need a new vision of Ireland in relation to unemployment; a vision that will create jobs to harness the potential of the unemployed; a vision that will conserve threatened jobs until alternative employment opportunities come on stream.
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