Economic Attitudes in Northern Ireland
This research, on the public attitudes on the economy, was commissioned by the Centre for Economic Empowerment and carried out by Ipsos MORI.
• 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%).
• 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.
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.
• 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%).
• 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%).
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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