It is hard to believe but this is our 200th post since the Policy Analysis team’s WDC Insights blog was first launched on 25th July 2014. Over the last (almost) five years and 200 posts we have addressed everything from labour market to climate change, broadband to county incomes, demography to electricity and much more in between.
We’ve tackled mysterious questions (Understanding rural transport statistics: Why are there so many new cars in county Roscommon?) and pressing issues (Energy and Climate Action- the WDC View of the Draft National Plan); assessed the regional impacts of national trends (Leprechauns in Invisible Regions: Regional GVA (GDP) in 2015) and policies (WDC submission to Ireland 2040-Our Plan, the Draft National Planning Framework); analysed Census data (Census 2016: Housing In Ireland – What has been happening in the Western Region?) and explained changing statistical classifications (Nuts about NUTS!). And of course there’s our annual Christmas Quiz!
So of our 200 posts so far, what have been the most popular…?
From April 2017, How are we doing? GDP of Irish Regions in 2014 by Dr Helen McHenry is among our annual posts analysing CSO data on county incomes and regional GDP. The analysis in this post showed the increasing dominance of Dublin and the South West in terms of their combined share of national GDP, with the share accounted for by other regions reducing over time, a trend that has continued.
Presenting our analysis to stakeholders is a key part of the work of the WDC’s Policy Analysis team and Preliminary Results of Census 2016 for Co Roscommon, from December 2016, summarised the main points from a presentation by Pauline White to the Roscommon Local Community Development Committee (LCDC). It outlined the key preliminary Census results for the county on population and the components of change. Of course, these results have since been superseded by the final Census results, but it seems fitting this is in our Top 5 given that Roscommon is the WDC’s ‘home’.
Number 3: What is Rural?
It might seem like a simple question, but the popularity of this post by Dr Helen McHenry from October 2017 shows that defining What is Rural? is far more complex that you might think. The post explores differing definitions of ‘rural’ used by the CSO, the National Planning Framework and the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas. It concludes by asking if we need ‘rural policy’ or policy for people living in rural areas?
Examining the population living in rural areas (using the CSO definition!), population density across western counties and the population of towns in the region, Census 2016: Rurality, Population Density and the Urban Population of the Western Region from May 2017 provides a handy overview of the distribution of the region’s population. It highlights that the region’s highly rural nature, with a dispersed population and a large number of small and medium-sized towns, has important implications for the delivery of services and infrastructure to residents of the Western Region.
And finally …
In our most popular post (by a long way!) Balanced regional development – What does it mean? Deirdre Frost explored the differing definitions and uses of this much used (and abused?) term. Written in May 2015, when the initial discussions were underway for the National Planning Framework, as a successor to the National Spatial Strategy, it concluded … ‘When considering a new national planning framework which aims to deliver balanced regional development, deciding and agreeing what we actually mean by balanced regional development and how we measure it would be a useful starting point which might ultimately ensure a greater chance of success.’ Whether the final NPF actually achieved this clarity is perhaps a topic for a future post …
So, 200 posts done and we are looking forward to the next 200. We hope you have found (at least some of) them useful and of interest. If you have, forward them to your friends! And if there are any issues you think we should cover in future posts, just let us know policyanalysis[at]wdc.ie
All the best
Pauline, Deirdre & Helen