Economic Attitudes in Northern Ireland

This report examines public attitudes and interest in economic issues in Northern Ireland.
Economic Attitudes in Northern Ireland Report Cover

This research, on the public attitudes on the economy, was commissioned by the Centre for Economic Empowerment and carried out by Ipsos MORI.

Executive Summary

Methodology

• 994 interviews were conducted with a representative sample of adults in Northern Ireland.

Interest in Politics and Economics

• Despite the low profile of economic issues in Northern Ireland, people were more likely to express an interest in economics (51%) than politics (40%).
• Interest in economics was particularly high among men (59% compared to 44% of women) and within socio economic groups ABC1 (66%) more than groups C2DE (37%).

Voting decisions

• When deciding which political party to vote for, more respondents stated that the party’s economic policy is important (68%) than its policy on whether Northern Ireland should be part of the UK or part of a United Ireland (56%).
• A party’s economic policy was more important for social classes ABC1 (75%) compared to C2DE (62%), for Protestants (72%) compared to Catholics (63%), for males (71%) compared to females (65%), and for older age groups.

Knowledge of Economic Policy

• Despite the importance that people in Northern Ireland placed on economic policy, less than one third (31%) agreed that they are well informed about the economic policies of local political parties.
• Younger respondents were less likely to agree that they are well informed about the economic policies of local political parties (23% of 16-34 year olds compared with 36% of those aged 55+). Socio economic groups ABC1 were more likely than groups C2DE to agree that they are well informed in this respect (38% v 25%).
• One third (33%) of respondents agreed that local political parties have a good knowledge of economics and economic policy while 31% disagreed. Younger respondents were less likely than older respondents to agree but there was little difference within the other demographic categories.

Knowledge of Economic Policy
Base: All adults aged 16+ (994), October/November 2013
Source: Ipsos MORI

The Left-right Spectrum

• Only one quarter (25%) of respondents described their political views as either to the left (14%) or the right (11%). Two fifths (41%) of respondents described their political view as in the centre and one third (34%) didn’t know how to categorise their views in these terms.
• A large proportion of respondents did not know where to place the political parties on the left-right spectrum. This ranged from 46% who did not know where to place both Sinn Fein and the SDLP, to 76% who did not know where to place NI21.
• The DUP was described by the highest proportion of people (34%) as a right wing party while Sinn Fein was described by the highest proportion of people (28%) as a left wing party.

Trust

• Respondents were most likely to trust voluntary and community groups (73%) and the business community (55%) to promote good economic policies. Respondents were least likely to trust the European Union and the Northern Ireland Executive (both 39%).
• Trust in local political parties to promote good economic policy was generally low. Overall, the SDLP was the most trusted party to promote good economic policy (36%). Of the five largest parties, Sinn Fein was the least trusted (27%).

Devolution

• Over half (54%) of all respondents agreed that devolution has had a positive impact on the Northern Ireland economy.
• Similar levels of people from Protestant and Catholic community backgrounds agreed that devolution has had a positive impact on the economy.
• 43% were favourable towards devolving more taxation powers to Northern Ireland and 25% are unfavourable.
• Catholics were more favourable towards tax devolution than Protestants (45% v 41%).

Support of Tax Devolution
Base: All adults aged 16+ (994), October/November 2013
Source: Ipsos MORI

This report is part of a series of research on the Northern Ireland economy. You can see the rest of our reports here.

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