Two leading think tanks have started a project to improve understanding of the economic links between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The work involves Dublin’s Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and the UK’s National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR).
It could be used to inform the debate about the potential economic consequences of a united Ireland.
The project will develop a statistical macroeconomic model for NI.
Economic models are tools which can help us to understand an economy and estimate the impact of different policies.
They generally consist of a set of mathematical equations that describe a theory of economic behaviour.
Economists can then plug data into the model to get projections of how the economy will perform in different circumstances.
Prof Alan Barrett, director of the ESRI, said: “When you have a model it allows you to do an awful lot.”
He gave the example of Brexit where ESRI’s model of the Irish economy could be used be estimate how trade impacts would then effect jobs and tax revenues.
He said that the process of creating the model would also improve understanding of the Northern Ireland economy.