Migration is endogenous

Jim O’Leary writes about migration here.

40 replies on “Migration is endogenous”

From the article:
That said, it seems reasonable to expect, given the relatively poor outlook for the Irish economy and labour market compared with the generality of European countries and the US, that net outward migration will gather pace over the next few years and bring with it a decline in the adult population, if not the population as a whole.

An estimated 26 million in the US are unemployed or underemployed. Almost 22 million are unemployed across the EU.

I would agree with Jim O’Learys opening words:‘THIS TIME it’s different.”

This time there really is not any place to go.

In 2006, I attended an interview for a job as economist with a leading monetary policy institution in Ireland (that shall remain nameless!) in which I was asked by the board what I thought the main challenges to the Irish economy would be in the years to come.

“The collapse in the housing market,” I noted, quoting the % of the labour force employed in construction as being twice the EU average.

“But what about demographic factors driving demand?” one of the interviewers insisted.

“They are endogenous to supply. It’s all a dangerous house of cards.”

He didn’t seem to like this answer, and so asked me what else I thought was a challenge for the Irish economy, going forward (sic.).

I replied, “that’s it, really.”

He really didn’t like that, so I clarified.

“Other problems are not worth devoting policy attention to, given the scale of the property market problem in this country.”

Needless to say, I didn’t get that job. I bet he still has his.

I am sorry. But for those who (like Graham above) have had to tolerate the poor level of economic commentary in Ireland over the last 10 years – including Jim O’Leary before he found the light – this takes the cake.

And guess what. It is still happening with many other economic myths of Ireland’s “success” still deeeply ingrained and regurgitated regularly in media by “expert” commentators like Jim and not countered anywhere.

@Alan Matthews et al

Debate on the exact population and migration numbers in the year to 2009 Q2 is a bit pointless today. The CSO will be publishing the definitive figures for population growth (whether positive or negative) and net migration (most probably negative) in the year to 2009 Q2 next Tuesday. I suggest people not bandy figures or predictions about prior to then, lest they appear foolish when the CSO figures are published. That warning applies not least to myself, since I’d be just as capable of being totally wrong in my forecast as anybody. It applies especially to Joan Burton who has predicted net emigration of 500,000. Tuesday’s figures will give us some indication as to how accurate her forecast is likely to prove.

My only comment prior to the figures being published is that, whatever the figures, they should not be taken as a harbinger of long-term trends. Migration has always been very volatile from year to year (as the figures below show), and doubly so now that there are half a million foreign nationals here who, just like Irish emigrants in Camden Town and Kilburn in years past, may quite understandably have a longing to return home one day. As with the aforementioned Irish emigrants, past experience suggests that only a small proportion of them will be able to do so.

As an example of this volatility, there was net emigration of over 40,000 in 1988 and 1989, which led to economists making predictions that the population would fall during the 1990s. But, that net emigration had virtually gone by 1991. Not a single economist at the time predicted that. And, to be fair, neither did I.

net migration (+ denotes net immigration, – denotes net emigration)

figures are in thousands

1987 -23.0
1988 -41.9
1989 -43.9
1990 -22.9
1991 -2.0
1992 +7.4
1993 -0.4
1994 -4.7
1995 -1.9
1996 +8.0
1997 +19.2
1998 +17.4
1999 +17.3
2000 +26.0
2001 +32.8
2002 +41.3
2003 +30.7
2004 +32.0
2005 +55.1
2006 +71.8
2007 +67.3
2008 +38.5

@ Graham

Maybe it was that word “endogenous” which sealed your fate!

They of course understood what demographics meant because it’s always reassuring when there is what appears to be an intellectual underpinning for feeding a boom.

It always seemed to be a cart-before-the-horse story and apart from our own history, there were plenty contemporary examples of high population growth side-by-side with misery.

NCB Stockbrokers website:


“NCB’s Economic Research is regarded as the gold standard when it comes to commentary on the Irish economy. The unique aspects of the Irish demographic story were first described by the NCB economics team a decade ago, and were identified as the main driver for economic growth for many years to come. These themes which were first published in “Population & Prosperity; sustaining the boom” continue to explain the remarkable out-performance of the Irish economy. When other commentators questioned the sustainability of economic growth, the NCB view remained, solidly and correctly, to the upside.

Published in 2006, NCB’s award winning “20:20 Vision, the Irish Demographic Dividend” charted the superior growth prospects for the Irish economy for the period to 2020. This confident view underpins our forecasts and positive recommendations for the Irish Stock Market.”

It’s more than the gold standard that is defunct!

“..the NCB view remained, solidly and correctly, to the upside” — but wrong.

In a January 2008 review of Marc Coleman’s book, The Best is Yet to Come, Colm McCarthy wrote: “Echoing a report from economists at NCB Stockbrokers back in 2006, he argues that rising population stimulates economic growth in and of itself: ” … as Ireland’s population rises, demand for a wide range of goods and services also rises, lifting economic output in the process”. The recent rapid population growth has in some manner created the Celtic Tiger. “A tidal wave of demand is washing over the economy”, and this is set to continue for decades.

Would that things were so straightforward. Population growth can just as readily be seen as a consequence of economic success, a far more plausible take on the Irish story than this demographic version of Say’s Law, the venerable notion that supply creates its own demand. If rapid population growth were the key to economic prosperity, sub-Saharan Africa rather than East Asia would be the current Wirtschaftswunder”

We agree!!
But I wouldn’t make many predictions based on the new CSO figures either.
By the by I no more believe the forecasters of doom than the forecasters of boom.
A bit of caution and an out clause should be part of every economic policy.

@ John,

You begin by stating that debate on trends is pointless because we are on the cusp of a CSO publication, then you add that whatever the numbers published, we cannot draw any trend inference from them, because they are notoriously volatile.

So…we can’t ever debate the trends? So…no LTEV?

BTW, why are CSO numbers any better than cellphone data?

There is, hidden away on the CSO’s excellent website, quarterly data on the adult (15+) population. It’s in Database Direct, and comes from the QNHS. On Tuesday, this fig should be available, as well as the mid-April annual estimate for total pop. Note that the quarterly 15+ pop figs are nsa – there is a significant seasonal. I predict (‘at the risk of appearing foolish’) that the annual fig will show population still growing (Q2 09 versus Q2 08), but that the sa quarterly figs for the 15+ pop will have stalled, perhaps fallen, from Q4 08. The media will report the annual fig, natch.

Free pint for Alan Matthews if I am wrong.

@Graham Stull

You can debate the trends all you want. Its not against the law. All I’m saying is that, based on past experience, one year’s figures is not a reliable guide to the long-term trend. For example, there was net immigration of 71.8 thousand in the year to April 2006. If anyone took that as a guide to the long-term trend, they’d have predicted net immigration of 718,000 in the next decade. And they’d have been totally wrong. Likewise with 2009/09. In the past 20 years (from 87/88 to 07/08) there has been an overall net inflow of 400,000 into Ireland, even though in 6 of those years there was a net outflow. You’d need several years figures before you can be even half sure if there has been any long-term change in the migration pattern of the past 20 years. CSO figures are computed by teams of the best statisticians to the highest professional standards. BTW, I have no connection with the CSO.


Okay, okay, I take your point. But surely the issue is also that the trends reverse, right? And if you miss the turning point (which you always will ’cause that’s short term data, right?) then you are going to be seriously out.

So really, what we are saying is we can’t predict demographics to save our seat covers. I think someone needs to make that point in relation to the magical LTEV.


Your predictions are very plausible. I will be most surprised if they are at all inaccurate. So, it is highly unlikely that you will look foolish.

But, with you being someone who actually knows what he’s talking about in relation to migration figures, you have a great advantage over certain others, who have been bandying wildly exaggerated figures for net emigration about (200,000, 500,000 – take your pick), and who really don’t know what they are talking about (for example: Joan Burton, David McWilliams, progressive-economy.ie), in that you are familiar with and have analysed the QNHS figures published each quarter. So, you are in the happy position of knowing what’s allready occurred up to 2009 Q1, whereas the above-mentioned others clearly don’t.

Apart from the overall figures, I’ll be interested to see how they break down by nationality. In the year to Q1, there was a modest overall net outflow. But, among Irish nationals, there was a net inflow (i.e. continuing net immigration among Irish nationals), counterbalanced by a larger net ouflow among foreign nationals.

@Graham Stull

I totally concur. No one, myself included, knows what the level of net immigration/emigration will be in Ireland over the next decade. If there was a net inflow of 500,000, I wouldn’t be surprised. If there was a net outflow of 200,000, I wouldn’t be surprised.

If the LTEV made any assumptions about net immigration/emigration over the next decade, I’d be most interested. I haven’t seen them. But, whatever they are, I’d take them with a pinch of salt.

How could you make an assessment of LTEV of property-based assets without making some demographic assumptions?

The draft NAMA Valuation Regulations require that the calculation of the adjustment factor for LTEV take account of demographic projections. They specify that projections by the following should be taken into account:
(a) Central Statistics Office;
(b) Economic and Social Research Institute; and
(c) Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland.

At the moment, the only demographic projections published by any of these that seem to fit the bill, so far as I am aware, are the ones published by CSO in April 2008.

@ K O’R,

thanks for linking the article. I was reading it in the paper at lunchtime too.

Quite an astute piece of writing, and does firmly make the point of how economics can get turned upside down.

I was at a tall building conference in 2005 I think, and the consensus amongst many architects and builders attending the meeting, was that we couldn’t wait for the government to make ‘plans’. In other words, we would have to embark on some ambitious high rise projects right away, in order to cope with demand.

I knew a lot of the people present at that conference. Most of them have closed up shop and are building nothing today. What I still cannot understand, is how that many people who all appeared to be educated, seemed to get it so wrong. Anyhow, the event was organised and sponsored by a construction magazine group. I guess, that should have given the game away.

Actually, now that I think of it, the atmosphere at that building conference was like: everyone needs to compete feverishly with all the other competitors, otherwise you would be left behind in the race. That was the anxious kind of feeling amongst the community of builders and developers present. In other words, there was some kind of group dynamic going on.

Has anyone read Charlie Fell’s analysis in today’s Times?

Investors stumble from one bull market to another

Prof Vernon Smith, the joint-recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics, is a pioneer of experimental economics and has conducted numerous controlled experiments to explore the dynamics of asset markets.

In a recent paper entitled Thar she Blows? Can Bubbles Be Rekindled With Experienced Subjects? co-authored with Reshmaan Hussam and David Porter, Smith examines the impact of learning on the formation of price bubbles.

Most builders at the moment feel very uncomfortable and are looking for ways to get themselves into the ‘next bubble’ as quickly as possible, in order to feel normal with themselves again.

@Brian: I am about to start reading a new book on the history of financial crises by Reinhart and Rogoff: it looks pretty good.

Hands up! In linking to the post on the progressive-economy website, I was more taken by the innovative use of a new dataset to throw light on migration trends than endorsing any specific prediction about migration levels. I recall that Richard Tol in an earlier post (“Voting with their feet”) used flight arrival and departure information as an indicator of migration trends (though John pointed out at the time that there was little correlation with actual migration flows) and Graham Stull has advocated use of sewage data (though apparently this is not collected in Ireland).

As far as I am aware, the QNHS gives us information on the labour force and participation rates, but not directly information on migration flows. I presume it is possible to deduce the latter from the former, but is there any information on the confidence level we can place in such estimates?

I shall await publication of next Tuesday’s figures with more than usual interest!

@ K O’ R

Do you think that the global or domestic system(s) could cope with a third cycle of boom and bust, in such close proximity to the last two we have experienced?

It was argued at some stage, that Ireland didn’t capture enough information about people who were moving in or out of the country. In terms of skill levels etc, to understand what kind of a workforce we were getting. I think in Jim O’Leary’s piece he makes the correct observation, many indeed were construction workers. But we didn’t seem to have mechanisms to report on that at the time.

If you read the Kingsley Aikins, article in today’s Times about the Dispora,

Tapping into Irish diaspora could make bi0g impact at home

He also reinforces the point about global population movement, and breaking the Dispora into subgroups:

In fact, it can be argued that there is no such thing as an Irish diaspora, rather hundreds of different Irish diasporas. Such variety requires tailored strategies.

Buckminister Fuller was one of the earliest observationists on this phenomenon. If I am not mistaken, Bucky was one of the first to speak about the global village. It was probably Marshall McLuhan, but Bucky and McLuhan influenced the same 1950s generation in the United States anyhow. Bucky and McLuhan also spoke about technology and communications a lot. This point is also taken up by Kingsley Aikins in his Dispora article today.

On the other hand, those in environmental think tanks draw our attention to possible bad scenarios, where huge populations are forced on the move, in a way that is too scary for me to comtemplate. I was at the Feasta dot org AGM the other evening.

Getting back to this question:

Do you think that the global or domestic system(s) could cope with a third cycle of boom and bust, in such close proximity to the last two we have experienced?

I put the question to a number of people there at Feasta, who work through a lot of different disaster type scenarios, and how policy could help. I put the question to them, how good was their crystal ball? I mean, back in 2001 or 2002, had they any notion whatsoever, that another boom/bust cycle was about to follow so closely after the dot.com collapse.

One fellow on the Feasta executive made an interesting point. He said, he did predict this current problem we are in. But he conditioned that assertion with something else – he said, that it was ‘amongst’ the different scenarios he was looking at. He wasn’t looking at the prospect of a property bubble and bust specifically. If he had been looking at that trend on its own, he might have raised more flags earlier.

But so many different things in an environmental and sustainable economics think tank are competing for his attention at the same time, that it was only in his pheripheral vision so to speak, rather than in his cross hairs. The Feasta group appear to have a lot of good thinkers, who are exploring the various scenarios, by which global systems are brittle and vulnerable in many ways.

It is a real pity, that the Feasta work has not got more attention. They tend to combine economics with sustainability in interesting ways.

We have gone totally off track on this thread.

With that in mind….I would like to ask you all if you are familiar with the work of macroeconomist Hyman Minsky. A colleague of mine in Boston sent me this piece from the Boston Globe earlier this week. Only now got around to reading it.


The name rang a bell, but I have to confess to not reading any of his books.

My parents moved from Donegal to Scotland when I was 4, hence I was educated and brought up there. I still have all my old lecture notes from Glasgow Uni.

Checking them out, I find that is was Vince Cable that talked about Minsky.

Seems like Minskys books are being reprinted. Will have to order them!

@Brian O’ Hanlon

My nearest town is Boyle in County Roscommon. Over the last 4 years I got to know at least 2 male and 1 female Polish people who were working here. The girl still works in Lidl…..she is a physics Graduate still looking for a job that reflects her qualifications. Both men worked as carpenters. One was a carpenter by trade, the other had a degree equivalent to our MBA.

Like many rural Irish citizens, building skills had been handed down through the generations. It was easy for them to find work.

Interestingly enough, the Carpenter by trade asked me 3 years ago….Who is going to buy all these houses?

@Brian O’Hanlon – “What I still cannot understand, is how that many people who all appeared to be educated, seemed to get it so wrong.”.

That, as they say, is the $64,000 question. The kind of situation you describe sounds like the usual situation of hope winning out over common sense and a small degree of scepticism.

I’m not sure about the use of mobile phone data. I know two people who have stopped using them because they have been unemployed for a while and now consider them a ‘luxury’ (as recruitment companies can just as easily call the home line), not because they are leaving the country any time soon.

I sincerely hope the next budget whacks a ton of tax on text messages so that I see less mobile phones in my life/in constant use in public. An aside…… I was working for a client once (outsourcing giant) who gave me a company mobile. A week after joining, I went into a long contract meeting from 10am-6pm. When I got out, there were over 100 voice messages and another 100+ texts. Gives you some idea about the ‘culture’ at the company – nobody wanted to make a decision at the point where it needed to be made/everyone wanted someone else to do their thinking for them. I didn’t last very long there when I kept pointing this out to the CEO! Personally, I prefer to see the whites of peoples’ eyes than have a conversation by text/vm-tag.

I digress, I start my masters on Monday and I’ve gone into rambling academic mode. No offence to those of you who make a living out of academia.

Its the academic contributors to this blog who tend to be the least rambling & the most coherent (by far). Good luck with the Masters.

I sincerely hope the next budget whacks a ton of tax on text messages so that I see less mobile phones in my life/in constant use in public.

This was considered for a previous budget, till the offspring of a minister asked how you could tax something that most mobile users get for free?

I get your point though.

Good luck with the Masters

@ Brian O Hanlon

Do you think that the global or domestic system(s) could cope with a third cycle of boom and bust, in such close proximity to the last two we have experienced?

I ve been pondering this myself recently and No is definitely the answer in my view – the financial system is too fragile. unfortunately we’re walking straight into the third bubble in 10 years – S&P up 55% or so since its lows and still steaming ahead. david rosenberg, formerly cheif economist at merrill lynch was making the point recently that the Nikkei has had four 50%+ rallies since it peaked in 1989 and is STILL 74% off its high! why do i keep bringing up japan……one answer: miserable demographics combined with debt deflation – didnt someone once say history doesnt repeat but it does rhyme?

S&P up 55% or so since its lows and still steaming ahead.

Expect a big correction any time in the next 5 weeks. P/E ratios are way too high.

Not even sure second bubble is even over yet: apologies to KOR for getting a bit off track
John C. Cushman III, chairman of Cushman & Wakefield, told an audience at the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate yesterday that the commercial real estate industry faces $5 trillion in mortgage refinancing problems over the next decade. Improved leasing, sales and construction conditions are unlikely until 2011 or 2012, he said.

I believe the question of these bubble repetitions are linked to the shifting of populations. It seems that the stronger and more pronounced our economic cycles get – a bit like the climate problem, of experiencing extreme weather conditions – the more it is causing the physical movements of people. The first phase of this seems relatively benign. As Michael Harvey says of Boyle in Co. Roscommon above – and lets face it, in the total context of the European region – where the heck is Boyle? Yet a couple of highly skilled, motivated and educated people made their way to that destination. This is my point, that the first movement of people as a result of economic turbulence seems benign. However, what Feasta dot org, the environmental and sustainable think tank are talking about, is further movements of people when climatic, financial, food supply and other brittle ‘systems’ begin to give problems.

This is why I used this phrase above:

But so many different things in an environmental and sustainable economics think tank are competing for his attention at the same time, that it was only in his pheripheral vision so to speak, rather than in his cross hairs.

There are a number of systems, and relationships between systems, that are getting problematic at the moment it seems. My honest opinion on it all, I don’t believe that Ireland did get the best benefit from the recent wave of migrant workers that came into Ireland. For a lot of the time, many ended up working in the construction industry, while their skills and qualifications were somewhere else. Maybe there needs to be a ‘Europe-wide’ look at this, to see what skills we have within the EU, and try and decide henceforth, how best to employ them, and where.

Otherwise, we will be hampered in the European region. Because there will be another ‘Ireland’ – Oh! Look! The ‘boom’ is happening there, so all of the mobile, skilled and talented work force rushes into that small region, hoping to slot into the right spaces in the workforce. Of course, it doesn’t happen. The local economy in the boom region gets distracted from what it should be doing, by the local asset bubble, and all of the workforce gets wrapped up in producing shoebox apartments, or whatever, as happened in Ireland.

That is hardly a sustainable strategy for Ireland going forward – many of the immigrants to Ireland have wasted 10 years of their young lifes, not worked in their field, and are now on the move again.

@ Alan Matthews

The natural increase for the 15+ pop has recently been running about 7500 per quarter. So if you know the pop change, you can deduce net migration, and a significant outflow is implied by the Q1 09 figs, as Jim O’leary points out. But the quarterly pop figs are estimates, and any errors translate straight into the net mig figure.

The use of net passenger movement data is interesting as is the ingenious deployment of mobile phone data by Saoi on prg economy. But I am wary of both: proxies can contain a lot of noise at high frequencies.

An interesting comment from Craig Barrett, at the ‘Irish Davos’ was, in the future, it will be about taking ‘smart people’ and ‘smart ideas’ and giving them a place to come together. At the conference, seem to indicate that Ireland needs to become a centre for excellence for a couple of key things. To aim investment at those things – education and healthcare, seemed to be suggested by the MS CEO – to increase our R&D in those areas.

All I can say, at at the moment I do know some people, a lot smarter than me, working at Phd level on areas to do with environmental sustainability. But we are not providing a good place for those people and ideas to come together at all. Especially, given that many policy think tanks undertake so many different projects, passions run very high, and a lot of participants seem stressed, because their project isn’t getting enough funding etc. We can’t fund everything, but we could fund some things.

We will have to choose what we focus on. In that way, we might manage to combine the best of Irish ingenuity and whatever mobile workers in the EU region, in some arranagement in Ireland, that would provide the right ‘environment’ for those smart people and smart ideas to come together. But importing people to wipe tables and brush floors for us, while we sat back and took life easy during the Celtic Tiger does not seem so smart to me. It seems we are back again in Ireland to a situation, where our smart people are brushing the floors again.

@ Brian O’Hanlon

Smart is the adjective du jour, often used by politicians who merit a less merited tagline.

There’s no shortage of positive ideas but many seem to believe that they could gain traction by just some maintenance work on the failed governance system.

Caution is also required when hired hands are calling for a new enterprise culture, as many of these individuals may know little about the challenges in developing new export markets.

Keep in mind, that decisions on the destinations of most of Irish exports, are not made in Ireland.

Earlier in the month, Minister for Foreign Affairs/schoolteacher (we should rightly recognise his current public positions) Micheál Martin told Bloomberg News that the diaspora forum would be a meeting of “key achievers.”

The trouble with that definition is that the entrepreneur “key achievers” are not likely to be known at a political level as they generally are not the types chasing such baubles as directorships of quangos, as an official seal of approval.

Emigration or immigration, there needs to be a realistic focus on where tens of thousands of new jobs will come from in the next five years.

For the majority of indigenous firms still dependent on the UK market, the prospect of years of public spending retrenchment is not good news – – never mind the problems in other developed country markets.


I was watching the ‘Live coverage’ from Farmleigh this afternoon. I was particularly struck by the contribution of the man from Malaysia, who had studied in Ireland during the 1950s. That guy came a heck of a long way to make his contribution, and I thought it stood out for me from all the rest I have listened to.

With the possible exception of Bob Geldof. (Note the sarcasm)

On the Late Late show, one of the dispora, Gerry Robinson made the point about government officials who run massive health care programs, have no experience running anything. At least, Michael O’Leary had run a sweetshop, if I heard McWilliams correctly on the Late Late show.

The National Asset Management Agency, being decided upon by party ministers here in Ireland – none of them have ever spent a bean on construction in their lifes. But now, they are all suddenly experts in how to allocate billions and billions worth. There is a disconnection, which is worrying to me, between people forming policy and those doing the work.

The management of untold billions is a task that even the most skillful in the construction industry, anywhere in the world, including Dubai, would shy away from at the moment.

The Green Party in Ireland have huge expertise in Ireland, regarding so many things – utilities, transport, energy, communications – but could be more focussed on those issues. We should not create too much of a task for ourselves in the property sector, with NAMA etc if it is unlikely to prove an area of growth for the future of the country.

I was hoping once the Greens got their position in government, the emphasis would be placed on export-led growth industry. I cannot see that happening. Has some crucial focus been lost or something? Are we too domestically focussed in our view?

Let us look away for a minute from the disaster of Ireland.
Australia has to pay millions of dollars every year to keep out those who try to get in. Detention centres. But over 100,000 are allowed in every year. Every year. New Zealand is the back door to Australia. Once three legal years in NZ, one may leave and automatically enter Australia. Kiwis are the largest category of migrants. Their population is neither expanding nor contracting. But not that of Australia. America is also attracting migrants, but they have a land border and those who cross are poor.
That will continue but Ireland will no longer attract population and many there will leave. The quality of decision making is very poor! It is a useful predictor of the future wealth of a country. NaMa is costly in so many ways! Because of better education, the Irish are always welcome in Britain. They displace the locals 80% of the time. Quality tells.
Ireland did not develop a sensible immigration policy. It no longer needs one! An Irish solution to an Irish problem.
There is a program on ABC Tues night that may be available on the website. It deals with Iceland. Their crony capitalism.
Irelands greatest export is its people. Always has been.

Just remember that the depression was forecast and then deliberately deferred twice by the Fed. They blew as many bubbles as necessary. They still hope to continue expansion using fractional reserve banking. But Steve Keen is being picked up on the smarter blogs as exploding the falsehood of that now. So more capital is being wasted. Taxpayers will not like the additional years of depressed economy caused by poor economic forecasting. The forecasting has been discouraged by those who realize that they do not know what is going on, but know that those who do and who criticize can be slapped down. Exercising power like this is reassuring to them. They are strong leaders. And all their cronies can make money out of the bubbles. Strong. Inspiring. Leaders. If you follow them they will lead you right to hell. Oooops! Sorry must try not to rub it in. After all, it is not as if you can escape, is it?
Anyone remember the 50s? Worse than that.


Very good post. No, I don’t remember the 1950s, or even the 1970s. But I do have vague impressions of my childhood and early teens in the 1980s.

You mentioned escape, you mentioned the fact that Irish who moved to Britain did exceptionally well often, due to their good education. It is interesting that you should mention that. I have submitted a couple of contributions to the thread on Dell ex. employee €14.0 million assistance package. But your posts above reminded me of another Dell story I recall.

I know a guy who got into telecommunications and worked around the world, and trained all over the place too obviously. One hell of a bright spark I must say. He went to school with the CEO of Dell Ireland and often shared flights out of Shannon to the United States with the young Dell executive before he became CEO.

My friend working in telecommunications used to tell me, he was glad to ‘leap frog’ over and out of all of the bulls*** as he saw it here in Ireland. Obviously he remained polite as possible to the young Dell executive, but in his own mind, always believed the fellow from Dell to be busy lining his own pockets, and not terribly interested in the Limerick region at all.

At the time, I felt it to be an unfair appraisal, maybe I still do. But I said I would mention it, as it represents two sides of a debate, or point of view, of a generation in the late 70s and 80s, many of whom left Ireland permanently.

Ireland did not develop a sensible immigration policy. It no longer needs one! An Irish solution to an Irish problem.


Thats too sensitive an issue for a state like ours which likes to duck challenges.

We neither knew how many we wanted, with what skills set and whether we could accommodate them.

Yet how can anyone be blamed for Ireland not having an immigration policy based on the actual requirement for growth and balancing societal cohesion. Immigration is a taboo topic and anyone who raises it is liable to be branded a racist etc. Hence Ireland, like most European states ignored the issue. Those other European states now have to face the issue because ignoring it spawned far right parties with 10-25% of the vote in many EU states.

In Ireland this development is precluded by the govt. skillfully engineering a multi-year recession.

“Immigration is a taboo topic and anyone who raises it is liable to be branded a racist etc.”

That is the truth for sure. I agree, it is ‘dynamite’, as soon as you pick it up it is liable to blow up and scar the person permanently, or for all intents and purposes. Not even a state institution could handle stuff like it. Even though it makes pure economic, social and planning sense to do so.

Did anyone read Tom Kinsella’s article in today’s Irish Times?

Naysayers deny reality of changed society

He compares the situation in both the USA and Europe. In both regions it does appear we are coping poorly with changes to the make up in our society. It was an interesting article.

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