I recently read a book on the Celtic Tiger which said that input growth is a big part of the Irish success story. The population growth has been high until recently, so Ireland has a demographic advantage. After a visit at Eurostat I got some data on Ireland’s population in comparison to Germany and Italy. From 1980 to 2004, the relative share of old people was stable in Ireland at 11 per cent, while it increased from 13 per cent to 18 per cent for Germany (20 per cent for Italy). The number of young people in Ireland contracted from 40 to 28 per cent, whereas in Germany it fell from 27 to 20 per cent (Italy: 30 to 20 per cent).
This is only a back of the envelope calculation, since my definitions of old people (65 and up) and young (under-20) are not standard and also migration is not included. Anyway, there is a clear demographic advantage for Ireland, seeing its workforce increase from 49 to 61 per cent in 24 years. Italy and Germany experienced only a minor growth in the workforce share during that period.