The political economy of growth
Between the mid-I 980s and the latc 1990s, social scientists' view of the principal issues involved in Ireland's social and economic development underwent profound change. Whereas Lee (1989), for example, sought to explain the under-perfonnance of the Irish economy relative to the rest of the developed world, the issue for analysts such as 6 Gnida (] 997), Barry (1999) and Nolan et at. (2000) was that of accounting for Ireland's remarkable successes. The economic climate has been transformed, from the dark days of fiscal crisis and a towering national debt, high inflation, perennially high unemployment and a massive haemorrhage of emigration, to the heady experience of economic boom, steady growth in population and employment levels, and a new confidence in the country's perfonnance and prospects. Much as the policy combination adopted by the 'Dutch model' during the 1990s has attracted the attention of a wider public (sce Visser and Hemerijck 1997), so also the policy configuration of the so-called 'Celtic Tiger' has fascinated many observers because of what it might contribute to our general understanding of models of econ01nic development.