Friday, May 10, 2013

Migration flows in both directions

Migration estimates from the CSO have been getting a lot of attention this week.  This is perhaps surprising given that they were published more than seven months ago.  The coverage includes headlines like these from the BBC and RTE.

Both of these headlines are wrong and for different reasons.  The 300,000 figure is correct but it does not relate just to Irish people and was not part of the report issued by the National Youth Council of Ireland yesterday.  It is not clear that any of those reporting on the report have actually read it. 

The report is not an estimate of emigration as indicated by the RTE headline.  In fact, the 300,000 figure that has attracted such attention gets a single passing reference in the report (last paragraph of page 13). 

The key contributions of the report are the results of an opinion poll with a 1,000 respondents in Ireland carried out by Red C in October 2012 and a summary of the feedback from 90-minute focus groups of between 7 and 9 Irish emigrants in each of London and Toronto. 

The BBC headline is incorrect because it overstates the number of Irish emigrants over the past four rears by a factor of more than two.  Here is a summary of the migration estimates from the CSO, where the annual data are to the end of April in each year.

Migration by Nationality

The CSO do estimate that 308,900 people have emigrated from Ireland in the past four years but of these 136,600, or 44% were Irish nationals.  On the other side the CSO estimate that 221,500 have immigrated to Ireland over the same time meaning net migration from an outflow of 87,400 over the four years.  For Irish nationals, net migration was an outflow of 55,500 over the four years.

The bad situation for Irish nationals is deteriorating, with almost half of the net outward migration of Irish nationals occurring in the 12 months to April 2012.  This is the opposite pattern for the other large component of the net migration figure, those from the EU accession states in the EU15 to EU27 countries.  For people from these countries, net outward migration has slowed with 70% of the net outflow shown above happening in the first two years, 2009 and 2010.  A table with a breakdown of the data by nationality and year is below the fold.

Migration Flows by Year


  1. Perhaps the press release accompanying the NYCI report pointed journalists to the 300,000 figure, but the coverage certainly leaves a lot to be desired.

    It's an interesting finding that the EU15-27 share of Ireland's population has only decreased by about 0.5 percentage points between 2008-2012. I looked at that and some aspects of revisions to population, migration and labour force estimates for the inter-censal years, here:

  2. I dont understand the point this blog is making. Does it really matter which tax payers/consumers are leaving Ireland? a net emigration of 87,000 is a massive reversal on trends during the boom and indicates that recovery is distant and will be the all more difficult. This blog and the site in general is well researched and points professionally made, however, there is a bias towards the green jersey rather than what should be an analytical approach to the facts rather than a subjective opinion on the Irish element