Urban development in Ireland has been characterized by periods of widespread expansion, interspersed with years of stagnation and decline. In terms of expansion the past three decades have seen the translation of rapid economic and population growth into extensive physical development in urban areas. Over the period 1960-80 population, gross national product and investment in building and construction grew at an annual compound rate of 1, 4 and 6.3%, respectively. This resulted in a 20% increase in population, a two-fold increase in the production of goods and services, and more than a three-fold increase in the output of the building and construction sector.