What Is Celtic Tiger?

Celtic Tiger is a nickname for Ireland during its boom years between 1995 and circa 2007 when its economy was growing rapidly. The gross domestic product (GDP) averaged 9.4% annually through 2000 and about 6% a year for the remainder of the period. 

Understanding Celtic Tiger

The person credited with coining the name Celtic Tiger is Kevin Gardiner, in a 1994 investment report for Morgan Stanley about Ireland’s economy. The period of the Celtic Tiger has also been referred to as The Boom or Ireland’s Economic Miracle.

Why Tiger, and Why Celtic?

The tiger is a symbol for power and energy all over the world; but this is especially true in Asia, where the tiger is linked with the power and mightiness of kings. The tiger is also associated with passion, ferocity, beauty, speed, cruelty, and wrath. The "Celtic" part of the nickname denotes Ireland as being one of the Celtic nations.

The term “Celtic Tiger” is a reference to the Four Asian Tigers, the nations of Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea, which underwent extremely rapid industrialization and economic growth rates in excess of 7% a year between the mid-1950s (for Hong Kong) and the early 1960s (for the other three countries). This rapid growth, which slowed in the 1990s, ultimately transformed these countries into developed, high-income countries, world-leading, international centers of finance, and leading manufacturers of electronics components and devices.

History of Celtic Tiger

Miraculously, Ireland jumped from being one of the poorest countries in Europe to one of the richest in only a matter of years. Ireland’s first boom was in the late 1990s when investors (many of them tech firms) poured in, drawn by the country's favorable tax rates—which were as much as 20-to-50 percent lower than those in some other areas in Europe. Additional reasons for the economic uptick include a rise in consumer spending, construction, and business investment; social partnerships among employers, government and trade unions; increased participation by women in the labor force; long-term investment in domestic higher education; targeting of foreign direct investment; an English-speaking workforce; and membership in the European Union (EU), which provided transfer payments and export access to the Single Market. This boom ended in 2001 with the bursting of the internet bubble.

A Second Boom

The second boom, in 2004, was largely the result of Ireland opening its doors to workers from new EU member nations. A rise in housing prices, continued investment by multinational corporations (MNCs), growth in jobs and tourism, a revitalization of the information technology industry, and the United States’ own economic recovery all have been cited as contributing factors for Ireland’s 2004 comeback. But by mid-2007, in the wake of the growing global financial crisis, the Celtic Tiger had all but died.

However, though the Irish economy experienced extreme contraction at a rate of about 14% during the 2008 global recession, which the financial crisis in the country lasting until 2014, recovery has begun. The year 2015 saw economic growth of 6.7%, ringing in a new period of economic growth for the Irish economy.