In stark terms, the socio-economic position of the Province at the start of the 1990s can best be summarised as follows: unemployment remains high at around 14 per cent; out-migration continues at persistently high levels; participation rates are low, and incomes are faIling even further behind the national average. Even more disturbing than this gloomy assessment of the Northern Ireland economy is the fact that such trends have developed against a background of substantial public sector intervention. The purpose of this brief profile of the Northern Ireland economy is twofold. First, to examine the nature and extent of economic change in Northern Ireland in the last decade, and assess the possible reasons why the region has missed out on the most expansionary six year period in UK post-war history. Second, to evaluate the efficacy of previous policy initiatives in Northern Ireland and to explore possible new directions for regional economic policy in the 1990s.