In 2008 Dubliners enjoyed the fourth largest net salaries in the world, behind only New York, Geneva and Zurich according to a recent report by Swiss bank UBS. The Irish capital also came fourth in the report’s Big Mac index of purchasing power, its residents only having to work for 15 minutes to earn enough for said McDonalds product.
Of course the flipside to this is that Dublin is among the top ten most expensive cities to live in (coming 12 places ahead of London), food prices are cripplingly high, and workers endure longer working hours than the Western European average. And set against Ireland’s brutal recession of the past 12 months, with painful public spending cuts, extortionate costs of services and and the Irish Central Bank’s former chief economists saying that the poor are subsidising the rich, the UBS findings on Dublin wages seem to hearken back to some very distant, happier time.
To understand what’s really happening in the fair city, read Mary Fitzgerald’s Letter from Dublin from the June issue of Prospect. On a visit back to where she lived during the Celtic Tiger boom years, Fitzgerald found on an eerily subdued atmosphere in the capital:
Driving into Dublin from the west you pass countless new housing estates, some half-built and abandoned, others fully finished. At night just a few small lights peek out of these vast building complexes. In the city centre you recognise new office blocks by their “to let” signs, particularly around the redeveloped docks, while at 6pm riverside bars and restaurants seem empty in the evening sunshine. On George’s Street, Dublin’s equivalent of Tottenham Court Road, a boarded-up shop sign reads: “Going to hell.” A note in the window says it will be redeveloped by “Gluttony Ltd.”
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