Irish prices are still 18% above the European Union average, despite consumer prices falling over the last two years, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office.

The analysis, "Measuring Ireland's Progress 2010", reveals that last year Ireland was the fifth most expensive country in the EU - behind Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and Sweden.

However, the CSO says this is a considerable improvement on 2009, when Irish prices were second highest in the EU behind Denmark, and 26% above the EU average.

Employment

The new survey traces the decline in employment through the recession.

Last year, Ireland's employment rate was below the EU average, and its unemployment rate was the sixth highest in the EU.

The overall employment rate went from 65.7% in 2001 to 69.2% in 2007, but plummeted to 58.9% by 2011.

Male employment fell sharply over the last three years from 76% to 62.6% early this year.

Female employment dropped from 60.7% in 2007 to 55.3% earlier this year.

Population

Ireland had the highest proportion of young people under 14 in the EU last year, according to the latest analysis.

It also had the lowest proportion of older people aged over 65.

Ireland has the highest fertility rate, and is the only EU country with a fertility rate of over two - the EU average is 1.6.

However, the Republic has the lowest divorce rate in the EU - with 0.7 divorces per 1000 in 2009.

Education

Ireland has the second highest class sizes at primary level in the EU, according to the CSO.

The report found the average primary school class had 24.2 pupils - the second highest in the EU.

The research found that mathematical literacy among students was below the OECD average - with Ireland coming joint 17th among participating countries in 2009.

However, reading literacy was slightly above the OECD average, with Ireland scoring in eighth place.

The early school leaver rate at 10.5% in 2010 is also better than the EU average of 14.1%.

46% of the population aged between 25 and 34 had completed third level education - that was the third highest rate in the EU.

Crime

On crime, the CSO found kidnapping and related offences almost doubled between 2005 and 2009.

Controlled drug offences were up by almost two thirds, while the number of weapons and explosives offences increased by more than half.

However, the number of murders and manslaughters decreased from a peak of 84 in 2007 to 60 in 2009.

Economy

Ireland's public deficit last year was the largest by far of any EU member state, coming in at 32.4% of economic output or gross domestic product.

Last year's deficit was inflated by the cost of recapitalising Anglo Irish Bank.

Total Government debt amounted to 96.2% of GDP, the fourth-highest ratio in the EU. Overall, the economy shrank by 0.4% last year.

But the CSO points out that Ireland still had the joint third-highest GDP per head in the EU last year - at 25% above the EU average. Ireland falls to 11th place when the output of foreign multi-nationals based here is excluded.

The productivity of the Irish workforce was just over a third higher than the EU average last year. This is partly because Irish employees work longer hours, but even when this is taken into account, productivity per hour was still 23% above the EU average.

But the level of business investment in Ireland was lower than in any other state last year, at 11.3% of GDP.

Housing

The CSO found the number of dwelling units built has plummeted from a peak of almost 90,000 in 2006 to 14,600 in 2010 - a level not seen since 1970.

The average value of a new housing loan in Ireland rose from €102,300 in 2000 to €266,400 in 2007, but fell back to €231,600 in 2009.

Health

The CSO figures state the life expectancy of the average Irish man is now 76.8 years, while for the average woman it is 81.6 years.

Both figures are reasonably close to the EU average.

Ireland spent an average of €2,234 per citizen on health care in 2009 - an increase of more than half on the level of spending in 2000.

Poverty & Election Turn-out

The CSO figures found poverty in Ireland has worsened over the course of the recession.

In 2009, 5.5 % of the population were living in consistent poverty - up from 4.2% just a year earlier.

It also found voter turn-out at Dáil elections has picked up in recent years.

In 1970, over 76% of eligible voters turned out at elections.

By 2002, that figure had fallen to below 63%, but rose in this year's election to nearly 70%.