Economic Growth in Cork County, Ireland, and Halifax County, Canada, during the 1990s

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This paper presents the empirical findings of a comparison of economic development programs pursued in selected regions during the 1990s. The study begins with an overview of the contextual framework within which the economic development strategies evolved. This is followed by a comparative analysis of job creation achieved through the respective programs as measured against the growth in the labour force. A greater level of success achieved by the Irish is attributed to a number of internal and external forces. Cork/Ireland had in place for some time a comprehensive and integrated policy heavily focussed on the creation of viable manufacturing and service agglomeration of firms. Firms were oriented toward the export of high value goods. Much of the Irish success is attributable to the role played by the European Union and American investments. Halifax/Nova Scotia lagged on a number of counts. The province had not rethought its overall strategy until quite recently. Its ability to carry out certain goals are limited by constitutional powers. Finally, the free trade agreement entered into by the Canadian government with the United States and Mexico did not have provisions for regional economic assistance to help needy regions restructure as did membership in the EU.

Dans cet article sont presentes les resultats empiriques d'une comparaison de programmes en developpement economique dans les regions choisies pendant les annees 1990. L'etude commence avec un survol du schema contextuel dans lequel ces strategies de developpement economique ont evoluees. Puis, une analyse comparative de la creation de l'emploi atteinte par ces programmes est presentee en utilisant la croissance dans le bassin de main d'uvre. Un plus grand succes est affiche par les irlandais et ceci est attribue a un certain nombre de facteurs internes et externes. Cork (Ireland) beneficie depuis quelque temps de la mise en place d'une politique comprehensive et integree, ciblee particulierement sur la creation d'une agglomeration viable d'entreprises manufacturieres et de services. Les entreprises furent orientees vers l'exportation de biens d'une valeur ajoutee elevee. Une partie important du succes irlandais est attribue au role joue par les investissements de l'Union europeen et americains. Halifax (Nouvelle Ecosse) s'est trouve en retard de plusieurs points de vue. La province n'a pas entrepris une revision de sa strategie fondamentale jusqu'a tres recemment. Sa capacite de poursuivre certains objectifs est limitee par ses pouvoirs constitutionnels. Enfin, l'accord de libre echange entre le gouvernement du Canada, les Etats Unis et le Mexique n'avait pas des provisions pour l'aide en matiere de developpement regional pour encourager les regions en difficulte a se restructurer, en contraste avec l'adhesion a l'Union europeen.


The slowness in overcoming the disparities between Atlantic Canada and the more prosperous regions of Canada over the last thirty years recently led policy makers to look toward development strategies enacted in small peripheral island states such as Iceland and the Republic of Ireland. Within this context, the economic transformation of Cork County, Ireland, and Halifax County, Nova Scotia, is compared. The time period of 1991-2001 was selected because it concludes a decade of rapid growth in North America and Europe. Both jurisdictions are reviewing policies' effectiveness in a new economic era. In 2000, the Nova Scotia government embarked upon a new strategy for economic prosperity. Ireland's policies are being assessed with regard to their effectiveness under current weak global economic conditions and a probable decline in European Union funding.

The two counties were selected for analysis because of comparable traits. They are similar in size, located on the periphery of their countries, and have their populations centrally located around a seaport node. This physical configuration creates a definite labour market boundary with comparative spatial commuting costs. …