June 2018

IZA DP No. 11633: The Evolution of Catholic-Protestant Labour Market Inequality in Northern Ireland, 1983-2014

Ethnic and religious differentials in labour market outcomes within many countries have been remarkably persistent. Yet one very well-known differential – the Catholic/Protestant unemployment differential in Northern Ireland – has largely (although not completely) disappeared. This paper charts its decline since the mid-1980s and examines potential explanations using Census data from 1991, 2001 and 2011 together with annual survey data. These data span the ending of The Troubles, the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, the introduction of fair employment legislation, growth in hidden unemployment, and major structural changes in Northern Ireland. We assess the relative contributions of these changes.