The ESRI’s new emigration forecasts are sobering (see here for QEC Press Release).    For the year to April 2011, net emigration is forecast to be 60,000, falling to 40,000 for the year to April 2012.  The gross emigration forecasts are 75,000 for 2011 and 60,000 for 2012.   The numbers are consistent with anecdotal evidence of a resurgence of interest in the emigration option.   It is also worrying that significant outflows are forecast in the context of a relatively depressed UK labour market, and despite quite restrictive and skill-biased immigration policies in the destinations of choice: Australia, Canada and the US. 

The numbers are a reflection of how limited opportunities are at home for young people, though it would be even worse for those who leave if outside opportunities were not available.   The unemployment rate for those aged 20-24 is 25.5 percent.   And this is despite a fall in the participation rate from roughly two-thirds in 2008Q3 to half in 2010Q3.  

We must also worry about the implications of large-scale emigration for economic recovery.    In a thought-provoking post back in November, Kevin O’Rourke drew attention to the danger of an adverse fiscal feedback loop given the large fixed cost of the national debt.   We get a form of fiscal increasing returns: the more people leave the greater the tax burden (and indeed the poorer provision of State services) for those who stay, further increasing the incentive to leave. 

Drawing on Ireland’s past experience with emigration, Kevin believes that working in the opposite direction will be wage and productivity increases given decreasing returns to labour.    While I have tended to be somewhat more optimistic than Kevin on Ireland’s chances of pulling out of the crisis, I am actually more pessimistic on this point.   City-level evidence from the US suggests that increasing returns – or agglomeration economies – are the norm in modern knowledge based economies (see the work of Ed Glaeser – in particular the “Wealth of Cities” paper with Joshua Gottlieb).   Out migration makes those who remain less productive.    Spatial equilibrium then comes about through changing house prices (and thus real consumption wages) rather than through the equalisation of real product wages.  But further falls in house prices would deepen the banking woes and make it more difficult to pull out of the crisis. 

There aren’t any easy solutions.   Although it is difficult for a government to avoid a harsh squeeze on immigrant visas at times of high unemployment, the importance of scale economies suggests the enlightened policy is to continue to attract skilled immigrants, especially when they have pre-arranged job offers.  Crude “lump of labour” thinking should be avoided.    Within the limits of budget constraints, it is also important to prioritise training and education opportunities, to give young people the option of waiting out the recession while developing skills.   As cynicism about politicians and institutions builds, leaders also have a special responsibility to focus on the national interest rather than narrow political advantage. 

124 replies on “Emigration”

Didn’t Cowen and O’Keefe announce a few months back in 2010 that the government expected to create 300,000 jobs within ten years?

Didn’t UCD/TCD dream up some sort of innovation corridor promising to create 10,000 or was it 30,000 jobs in ten years back in 2009?

With all these smart economy initiatives, I am puzzled why emigration is such a problem.

This is really sad. So many parents thought emigration had faded as a key feature of life in Ireland. So did Bertie.

Irish Times, 22 June 2006

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern described Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins as a “failed person” and told him to “go away” during heated exchanges on the cost of housing In March 1996, the average price of a home in Dublin was €82,000. This year, 10 years later, it is €384,000, an increase of €300,000. That represents a shocking €30,000 increase per year, the equivalent of the current average industrial wage each year for 10 years. Prices outside Dublin have increased pro rata. ” Mr Higgins said that speculators were buying houses in working class communities left, right and centre. “A frightening percentage of homes in hitherto stable communities are now rented. Stable communities are being replaced by transient communities, by people who are forced into the laps of landlords, such as migrant workers and those on rent supplement.”

Mr Ahern said that house price increases were primarily driven by the increase in demand for housing. “Now that we have stopped mass emigration by working class people, unemployed trade unionists and those who lived in working class communities but had to seek refuge in Australia, Canada, the United States and Britain, people are again living in the working-class areas which the deputy and I represent.”

It helps that the skills in demand in destinations with skill-based immigration policies include both construction and health/ancillary services.

Could we have a discussion based on facts and not ESRI forecasts, as there is a large divergence between the two over the past couple of years? Although this being Ireland, facts always get a lot less media attention than forecasts. As I posted in another thread at lunchtime, in respose to a comment from Paul Hunt:

Back in mid-2009:

ESRI forecast net emigration of 50,000 in the year to April 2009.

In response, JTO forecast 5,000 net emigration in that period.

Actual outcome, as published by CSO: 7,800 (all foreign nationals).

Roll forward to mid-2010:

ESRI forecast net emigration of 70,000 in the year to April 2010.

In response, JTO forecast 35,000 to 37,000 net emigration in that period.

Actual outcome, as published by CSO: 34,500 (60% foreign nationals).

Foreign nationals returning home is not emigration. It may have a similar effect on the demand for new houses. But, in terms of the sum of human happiness, a Polish person going back to his home and family in Cracow, after living a few in Dublin, is clearly not the same as someone from Donegal leaving his home and family and going to live in London. The actual figures for net emigration of Irish nationals are zero in 2008-09 and 14,000 in 2009-10, far less than the figures ESRI have been bandying about. The figures for the population aged 15 plus in the Q2 and Q3 2010 QNHS, and the figures for PPSN numbers in the second half of 2010, do not indicate any increase so far in 2010-11 over 2009-10 (although these figures are for less than half the year that is measured from April to April, so could change).

Could someone from ESRI clarify if they now accept the CSO estimate of 34,500 net emigration in the year to April 2010. As noted above, ESRI had previously forecast 70,000 net emigration in this period. When the CSO reported it at 34,500, ESRI, in their October Quarterly Bulletin, claimed that the CSO had got it wrong and that they were standing by their own much higher forecast (even though the CSO record over the years is excellent). In today’s Quarterly Bulletin, ESRI seem to have dropped this claim, and the total they give for the period 2009-2012 seems to indicate that they now accept the CSO figure. If so, this means that for the past two years, their forecasts have greatly over-estimated the level of net emigration.

This is not my area of expertise, but if Supply of Labour decreases, then on the Standard Economics models there will be an increase in price of labour. So that’s a good thing? No? Or is this thing just as long as a piece of string?

“There aren’t any easy solutions. ” That’s the most sobering comment in this piece. The un-employment rate % for 25 and under is a disaster – but is this figure sectorial (Killinardin, Coolmine, Moyross, etc.?) Turning this around may be imposssible. How about we demand the CSO publish maps showing un-employment in specific areas – both rural and urban.

The principle road-bloc to ‘recovery’ is the steadfast adherence to the neo-classical model of a developed economy. This model is now, significantly deficient. It has a mandatory (almost absolute) dependence on annual incremental increases of population, credit and energy. This matrix of ingredients is classical bubble (or Ponzi) material. Real trouble.

I visited Glaeser’s site – the list of papers is somewhat extensive. Will have to sift through it.



On emigration – I would like to see legislation passed by the incoming Government to provide ‘The Vote’ in both general and presidential elections to Irish citizens living abroad. Local I leave local, including resident citizens of other countries who work here.

This is both just, and should enhance Irish democracy: by right, an Irish citizen anywhere is entitled to a say in how this state is run.

The present loss of human capital could have been avoided … and this loss makes economic recovery locally more difficult.

Significant numbers are commuting on a weekly basis to the UK on behalf of Irish companies – plenty of “regulars” on the Ryanair flights these days – are these captured in the numbers ?

@John McHale,

“As cynicism about politicians and institutions builds, leaders also have a special responsibility to focus on the national interest rather than narrow political advantage.”

I’ll leave you to bat the ball with JtO on the numbers (should you wish to) and I’m pleased that you are addressing the real crisis – unemployment, but, seriously, what planet are you on if you think that any political faction will focus on the public or national interest unless it dovetails precisely with their own political factional interest?

I think that many people, rightly or wrongly, are forming the view that the interests of certain investors in insolvent or barely solvent banks are being fully protected at the expense of the well-being and futures of a large number of citizens – in particular, young people. The EU’s Grand Panjandrums may be aware of this – and may be working furiously to come up with a process that will resolve it – but Irish voters rejected Lisbon in June ’08 ( for not very good reasons) and I genuinely fear that voters will be provoked to generate a result they will live to regret.

@ JtO

I accept the human cost of Polish people voluntarily going home is not the same as people leaving their home (and I agree we should focus more on actual rather than projected figures).

However, there are plenty of Irish people who left during the boom with the aim of living abroad just for a few years (for experience/adventure) who are now stranded abroad. So return migration of Irish people is lower.

So in sum the net migration figure is a fairly good indicator for native born Irish migration.

Originally mentioned on the Sarkozy thread, but this is a better home.

Just as comparative context, in case other countries don’t understand the scale of the dislocation in Ireland.

If the emigration rate for Ireland 2011 (forecast, at least) were transferred to other countries then the equivalent rate for Spain would be 500k+ emigrants, for Germany 900k+, for the USA 3.5 million, for France 700k+. Per Year.


Do we have a guesstimate about what % represents returning emigrants from Eastern European EU members? To the extent that this is a substantial component of the total it should be noted that this is a positive aspect of improved European labour mobility and in the spirit of EU free flow of labour etc. That component would reflect not “limited opportunities at home” but rather “better opportunities at home.” Not sure about the % breakdown but important to correct for this aspect.

@ The Alchemist

Subsidised direct smart economy jobs in 10 years; likely an average of up to 1,000.

MNCs – – there will be some job gains to offset losses but there will be little early stage research done in Ireland.

Strange that Norkom, the high-tech plc with the greatest potential is being sold off to BAE Systems and there isn’t a squeak from the policy establishment.

Emmet Oliver said in the Indo: “The pleasing thing is how quickly the firm was able to reach a point where BAE was prepared to make such a generous cash offer.”

How this fits in with the ambition to become a European Silicon Valley — nobody knows of course.

The pensions fund gives $50m to a US VC to open and office in Dublin and the exit for a start-up with an interesting technology is to be acquired by a US firm.

So much for one-club golfing!

@ David O’Donnell

Apart from some exceptions, I don’t believe that people should have 2 passports and 2 votes.

@ All

Ireland faces the challenges of long-term unemployment and emigration and these subjects get little attention from the comfortable.

Job development trends in Japan give an indication of some emerging trends in the new model of globalization.

The US has a jobs gap of almost 12m jobs the number needed to get back to pre-recession levels of employment.

Brookings Institution economists say that with a monthly increase in the labour force of about 125,000, if the economy adds about 208,000 jobs per month, the average monthly rate for the best year of job creation in the 2000s, then it will take until November 2022 to close the job gap. At a more optimistic rate of 321,000 jobs per month, the average monthly rate for the best year of the 1990s, the economy will reach pre-recession employment levels by January 2016.

Forty percent of the global workforce was employed full time for an employer in 2009 and 2010

Is Emigration always bad for the country? I am old enough to remember the 70s and 80s emigration and lost my two brothers to it. But I also do remember the number of times they holidayed here regularly by themselves and subsequently with their families. They also remitted monies to other members of the family for education purposes,holidays and presents for big ocassions – weddings,Christmas etc. Current figures show visitors from the UK and Europe down around 20% in 2010 so maybe we will once again see an upsurge in emigrant Tourism which could bring in Billions in revenue if it was promoted by sleepy Failte Ireland.

Like JTO I dont believe the numbers of emigrants guestimated by the ESRI based on what I see at local level. There are still jobs under the radar for people with worthwhile qualifications and experience. There is certainly a problem at Graduate level and for those with no worthwhile academic or practical qualifications. I would expect employers in the UK and Europe to be interested in our best Graduates but certainly not in unqualified inexperienced persons.

@ Gregory Connor

There was only a small drop in the number of naon-nationals on the Live Register in Dec compared with the previous year.

Of the 76,645 non-Irish nationals, the largest constituent group on the Live Register were nationals from the ex-EU15/EU27 States (42,198), followed by the UK (17,855).

In the year to December 2010 the number of Irish nationals on the Live Register increased by 14,358 (+4.1%), while the number of non-Irish nationals decreased by 874 (-1.1%).

@Michael Hennigan

“Forty percent of the global workforce was employed full time for an employer in 2009 and 2010”

43% of Chinese workers are farmers. 70% of Indians .

@Gregory and JTO

It is worth looking at the CSO migration numbers for the year to April 2010, especially Table 3. At the outset of the recession, the emigrant outflow was very clearly dominated by returning immigrants. As the stock of mobile immigrants fell, this pattern clearly changed in the year to last April. Although I take JTO’s point about facts vs. forecasts, from the anecdotal evidence it is hard not to believe that the outflow of the native-born is ramping up substantially. This effect will be re-inforced as new networks are built.

I agree that the experience leaving Ireland will often — though certainly not always — be less difficult for relatively short-term immigrants. However, from a strictly economic productivity point of view, losing immigrant skills is not that much different from losing native-born skills. It is true that many immigrants have been working “below” their education level. But even there they have been contributing to diverse “consumer cities” (to draw on Ed Glaeser again), which is a component of successful knowledge-based regional economies.

The Dept of Education in October had 200 retired teachers doing replacement work while hundreds of new graduate teachers are unemployed.

The HSE employs hundreds of agency workers while qualified nurses are forced to emigrate.

The IDA in ten years doesn’t seem to have created many net jobs in manufacturing at least. Finfacts- State agency Forfás reported last March that total permanent full-time employment in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors amounted to 272,053 in 2009. It was 276,287 in 1998. Employment in foreign-owned firms was 132,596 in 2009 and 140,281 in 1998.

Ireland doesn’t have an export credit scheme.

The Society of Chartered Surveyors has been calling for the establishment of a public database to maintain and publish relevant details of all property transactions including sales, lettings and rent reviews along with details of all incentives and side agreements which would address the issues raised. No such database exists.

Ireland is a joke.

Unfortunately I have to disagree with you on this one. Emigration will be different now because:
1: The Ireland people are being forced to leave is actually a great little country with some of the best services and quality of life in the world.
2: it’s skilled workersand professionals who are leaving

Listened to John Murrays show this morning on Radio 1. Saddest thing Ive heard in a while. A kind of wake for a small enterprise in Ireland.

We have only one option – renegotiate the deal with the IMF snd have some debt restructuring. And someone put Cowen out of his and our misery please!

Irish Times Jan 17, 2011:

One man who returned to live with his wife and child after four years abroad was recently refused an emergency payment because a community welfare officer argued he had reduced his chances of getting a job by returning home.

“At present, Ireland has one of the highest rates of unemployment in all 25 EU states. By voluntarily remaining in this State, you are, therefore deemed to have placed yourself in a position where you will not be able to provide for your own independent financial support,”

Can we expect welfare withdrawals from residents now on the basis that they should have emigrated already?

-David O’Donnell, as an emigrant myself I would argue no taxation, no representation. In Canada, I will not be able to vote without acquiring citizenship and under the Irish Electoral Acts I cannot vote in Ireland so at present I have no vote, but I’d rather that than see 80 year olds in Calgary or New Haven sending home their usual postal ballot for FF because that’s what they’ve always done, hampering the people who have to live with FF of their ability to get shot of them.

Census is in April?

Last census was in 2006 & there has been some major events which might have been difficult to adjust for….

Would be very interesting if the census could also count the number of empty homes.

I’m personally more interested in the result of the census than I am in the outcome in an eventual election.

@John McHale, Gregory Connor, Paul Hunt

There are two quite separate issues here. There is (a) the net numbers emigrating and (b) their composition as between Irish nationals and foreign nationals.

With regard to (b), I totally agree that from an economic point, it matters not whether they are Irish nationals or foreign nationals – same effect on demand for housing etc etc. However, from a social point of view, there clearly is a difference. To put it in its simplest terms, one adds to the sum total of human happiness (ie foreign nationals returning to their homeland) and the other subtracts from the sum total of human happiness (ie Irish nationals going to live abroad).

However, my posts are about the numbers involved, not whether it is sad if someone emigrates, which it clearly is. As always, I strive for statistical accuracy. It isn’t always easy as the raw data can often be inconclusive, but we should all try to analyse as accurately as possible whatever data is available. I do not believe ESRI have done that over the past couple of years, whether it is because they are just sloppy or whether they are politically-motivated against the present Government. I believe that they have bandied about headline-grabbing figures which have been shown to be inaccurate and over-estimates. This is quite disgraceful. Emigration is one of the most emotive subjects in Irish history. There is an election coming up. It is an assault on democracy for organisations like ESRI to bandy about headline-grabbing figures that will influence how people vote, unless they produce evidence to back them up.

In his typically excellent post above, Pail Hunt said:

“I’ll leave you (John McHale) to bat the ball with JtO on the numbers.”

With the greatest respect to John McHale, whom I have described several times before on this site as one of the two best economists in Ireland, he isn’t the one who produced the forecasts. I don’t know what the equivalent on this site is of challenging someone to a duel. Do you slap them on the cheek with a white glove? Anyway, I hereby challenge Professor Alan Barrett of ESRI, who seems to be the originator of most of the ESRI migration forecasts of recent years, to debate the numbers with me. Should he do so, these are the points I will put to him:

(a) Do you agree that ESRI’s forecast this time in 2009 that net emigration in the year to April 2009 would be 50,000 turned out to be wrong and that the actual figure was 7,800 (as estimated by the CSO)?

(b) Do you agree that ESRI’s forecast this time in 2010 that net emigration in the year to April 2010 would be 70,000 turned out to be wrong and that the actual figure was 34,500 (as estimated by the CSO)?

(c) Do you now accept the CSO estimates for 2009 and 2010, or are you still claiming that the CSO got them wrong?

(d) If your forecasts were wrong in 2009 and 2010, don’t you think that, with an election coming up, political impartiality dictates that you should point this out to the media who publicise your latest forecasts?

(e) Can you supply any evidence, either from the quarterly QNHS figures or the monthly PPSN numbers (the only regular, although imperfect and far from totally reliable, figures that we have to base estimates on post-April 2010) to support your forecast of 60,000 net emigration in the year to April 2011? If your forecasts were great exaggerations in 2009 and 2010, why shouldn’t they be in 2011?

For what it is worth, the QNHS figures seem to indicate that net emigration stabilised in late 2009/early 2010 and that since April 2010 it has been running at about the same level as the 34,500 estimated by the CSO for the year to April 2010. I do not claim that the QNHS figures are a totally reliable indicator. The QNHS figures for the population aged 15 plus are:

Q1 2007 3,442.9
Q2 2007 3,462.5
Q3 2007 3,487.6
Q4 2007 3,512.3
Q1 2008 3,519.7
Q2 2008 3,514.9
Q3 2008 3,529.7
Q4 2008 3,533.9
Q1 2009 2,531.5
Q2 2009 3,523.8
Q3 2009 3,526.2
Q4 2009 3,521.0
Q1 2010 3,516.0
Q2 2010 3,512.4
Q3 2010 3,512.7

Taking the year-on-year changes, we get

Q1 2008 +76.8
Q2 2008 +52.4
Q3 2008 +42.1
Q4 2008 +21.6
Q1 2009 +11.8
Q2 2009 +8.9
Q3 2009 -3.5
Q4 2009 -12.9
Q1 2010 -15.5
Q2 2010 -11.4
Q3 2010 -13.5

As the figures show, there was a clear increase in net emigration (from a large inflow to a substantial outflow) between 2007 anf late 2009. But, since then, it appears to have stabilised. If these CSO figures are reliable, and they proved very reliable for previous CSO population and migration estimates, they would indicate that net emigration is currently still running at about the 34,500 level the CSO estimated for the year to April 2010. The figures for PPSN numbers also back this up. I haven’t time to post those tonight, but I might do so tomorrow.

However, as I say, I am very happy to debate the numbers with Professor Alan Barrett, the originator of the ESRI forecasts, and, if he can show that I am wrong, I will naturally accept it.

Wow JTO it’s only 34,500!!
That makes me feel so much better!
34,500 less people to pay the yield on those bonds you’re sitting on all the same.

Emigration of Irish nationals only reduces the sum of human happiness if they will be less happy abroad than they would be if they stayed here. Under current circumstances that’s not an obvious call.

The thing that has probably reduced the sum of Irish happiness is the property boom itself, which caused a major reduction in the prospects for happiness of people who chose to stay in Ireland. They are more likely to be unemployed or highly taxed. There may be a reduction in the prospects for happiness of those who leave as people leave with less planning. Whether there’s a net loss from actually leaving is not clear..


Good post and I agree with your responses above.

Today I listened to Pat Kenny interviewing Alan Barret regarding the ESRI 100,00 net emigration two-year forecast. Pat Kenny painted a grim picture of 100,000 young Irishpeople unwillingly separated from their families and forced overseas. I agree that the outlook is very bad (for the reasons you outline) but if X% of the net flow are returning East European emigrants returning home or moving to other EU states then that should be appropriately acknowledged. That X% do not fit into Kenny’s grim tableau. Quite the opposite – they will be greeted warmly at the other end of the short flight by happy family and friends. The radio show gave a substantially misleading impression that it was 100% Irish out-migration rather than migrants returning home. I felt that Alan Barret should have corrected the wrong impression created by Pat Kenny, but perhaps the conversation slipped away from him. Perhaps he was shaking his head in the background, but it deserved more verbal clarity. Your counterpoints above are well made.

Even if there is some hidden “good news” in an appalling figure of 100,000 emigrants in the form of x% being Polish ~ watch your arses on the door on the way out Agneta and Zbigniew but thanks for the work ~ even if the scale of the failure is only x% and the real number of Irish emigrants is ONLY 100 per day, that still leaves 100,000 less working people requiring housing in ireland and a major departure from the insane projections that fed the last years of the property boom with the associated implications for NAMA and the banks who based their projections on the same numbers. So, house prices to fall again before they plummet.

Check out slide 8

It’s been a while since I’ve seen such rubbish to be honest. The formula for human happiness cited above shows how disconnected aims people have become.
Spoke to a woman the other day who spent her first Christmas on her own because her three sons have emigrated. She described it as being like mourning. Then the grandparents not only seeing their children go but not going to be a part of their childrens lives.
Then the patients who won’t get treated because the hospitals can’t get the staff. Will I go on!
If anything betrays a self satisfied arrogance it is the content of some of the posts above.

The previous peak was around the end of the Korean war (1954) when 55,000 emigrated. At that time many parishes could not put together a football team and the countryside was littered with abandoned houses. The risk up to now was all the over sized houses around the country and no job market to support them, leading to large haircuts on large houses. If emigration keeps up even modest housing will take a hit. The downward spiral has to be stopped in it tracks before serious damage gets under way. There is little sign of our gov’t performing triage and letting the banks go while trying to save the country. I wish I could be enthusiastic about a FG/Labour coalition taking over in March but to me it looks like deja vu all over again. Hopefully the ECB/IMF/European Commission will crack the whip and force a solution on us.
We have dismally failed again and again since 1922, time we woke up.

just in case you’re referring to my comments, you should know the emigration history of people before you throw words like arrogant or self satisfied around.

Distinguishing between Irish and non Irish emigrants is cynical. Many immigrants built new lives in Ireland, have kids in school in Ireland who know no other life, spend their money in Ireland, support jobs in Ireland and are a huge loss to the economy when they take their skills with them.

This is only an early iteration in Ireland’s descent through the various levels of debt deflation hell.

One of the next waves will look like this :


Joe Higgins is right. The EU is protecting the wrong people.

@Hugh Sheehy
Every story is different. Yes – emigration can be ok for some individuals but forced emigration on this scale is always bad for a country.
We must focus not just on the happiness (or otherwise) of those who leave but those who are left behind. Unfortunately when you’re up close to a problem anything that seems to minimize it just appears to be detached and unaware.

ah… so you were referring to me. Only my respect for the creators of this board prevents me from using anglo-Saxon vocabulary in your direction. If you want to throw insults then aim them at people who cause it not those who lived it.

@Hugh Sheehy
No. It’s how the contents of the comments seem to me. And I’m living it too (and that’s the truth)
Shows how emotive this is!!
Honestly it is very very very hard to have to think of leaving your country behind when you’re past a certain age. Hence the anger. Apologies if you feel it’s directed at you – it’s not – maybe the comments just presented an easy target – I don’t know.
As I said – every story is different!

I was getting a bit confused by the the numbers being used so I decided to look up the CSO site
From Sept 21st 2010

“Emigration from Ireland in the twelve months to April 2010 is estimated to have remained broadly constant at 65,300 while the number of immigrants into Ireland fell sharply, from 57,300 to 30,800 over the same period. These combined changes have resulted in an increase in net outward migration from 7,800 in April 2009 to 34,500 in April 2010. This is the highest level of net outward migration since 1989.”

If we assume that the emigrants and the immigrants are unrelated (a rather large assumption), then the misery index is at least 65,300 and not 34,500.

The exclusive use of the term net emigration is uninformative and misleading in the context of social or indeed the economic impacts of emigration as both groups could have very different socio economic features.

@Michael Hennigan
Almost every other developed country has managed to organise emigrant voting, even Mexico has sorted it out, and it would do us no harm to have a few votes not tied to the parochial mindset.

Whatever they spent on their holidays or remitted would be dwarfed by their taxation and expenditure if they lived here, so yes, emigration is always a net loss.

Poles or Paddies that level of emigration would mean an extra 40,000(ish) housing units available to rent or buy.

Anecdotally – I know quite a few people late 20’s early 30’s who are making plans to leave. All in quite good finance / IT jobs. The thinking is – Ireland as the moment is pretty much a shithole so what’s it going to be like in 3/4 budgets time.

Also, I think the GAA registration trasfers give a good feel for what’s happening in the 20-30 age group. Figures were up by 45% in 2010.

Who’s going to fund all those juicy public pensions people????

@Michael Hennigan

a pr visa in Oz does not get you a second passport for 5 years, I would love to be able to vote in this election but can’t

On Norkom, a firend of mine works there and is worried about his job because BAE have a habit of stripping a company bare once they buy it

@Rory O’Farrell

point well made my sister is in that boat and will find it hard to get home eventhough she wants to


did you count David Drumm in your figures!

@ Eureka

I believe you’re getting close to the nub of this discussion when you say that emigration ( caused, we all seem to agree, by disastrous Irish political and economic “policy” decisions in recent years) is good for some individuals but always bad for a country.

In fact, while there may be wrangling about the numbers and the breakdown ( “Irish” versus “non-nationals” etc.), whatever the numbers, there seems to be no doubt that emigration is “back” in numbers sufficient to warrant analysis of its economic impact which is what I think this blog is all about.

Many of you are better qualified to crunch the numbers in terms of economic impact on tax take, the housing market, the health service, pensions etc. but what I’ve been attempting to do in recent contributions is to move the discussion beyond what caused the current mess and who, in Ireland in particular, was responsible and get us to a place where we’re analysing where we WILL BE when the banking crisis is solved/resolved so that we have a sustainable “industrial” strategy for the future “Irish” economy.

“Irish “Emigration” in economic terms is people of all working ages, and and all nationalities leaving the Irish economy for a variety of reasons to locate in another economy temporarily or permanently because conditions in those other economies are likely now, or will be likely later to provide the needs and aspirations of those people in a way that the Irish economy does NOT right now and will NOT in the near term.

The phenonenon, whatever the numbers, is now a FACT ( not just for individuals, Eureka) and therefore warrants dispassionate analysis geared toward incorporating it into a new Irish “industrial strategy.

In doing so, would it be possible to “park” (not discount) for the moment further references to the anguish of mammies and daddies because their babies are forced to eke out part of their futures in places more than an hour away from the family hearth by RyanAir?

Could I advance the simple thesis that the talent and skill sets required for Irish workers in a truly global economy, whether these workers” are based in Ireland or not, will, in any event, need exposure to, experience of, learning from and in some cases, revenue from significant periods spent working OUTSIDE IRELAND!

If we could agree on this, I believe we might be having a somewhat different discussion about “emigration”, particularly as it relates to future Irish “industrial” strategy.

In this sense, Eureka, “emigration” might be seen to be much more than “OK for some individuals” and “always bad for a country!”


re Who’s going to fund all those juicy public pensions people????

That is the question. Or who will be left to pay off the debt taken on ‘just to ensure that ‘the gardai, nurses and teachers’ were paid?

@Richard Fedigan,

Your points are well made, but this is the wrong board if you think they might provoke some necessary change in policy formulation. They might provoke some debate and seep peripherally into the policy sphere, but you might be better exercised directing your ideas at FG and Labour – which, almost certainly, will form the next government with an overwhelming majority.

And that is where the problems start. For want of better terms a ‘left-right’ divide is beginning to emerge in the Irish polity (similar to that which exists in most mature, developed polities) and FG and Labour are on different sides of this divide. This does not augur well for the coherent, competent, moderate, sensible governance that is now required.

Furthermore, the upper layers of the public service (in Departments, state boards and agencies) are stuffed with yes-men and women who achieved position by virtue of contributing to and maintaining the spin-machine that made their political patrons and masters look good – irrespective of the objective reality. There will have to be a serious cleaning out of the stables before major policy initiatives along the lines you favour may be formulated, scrutinised and implemented.

However, constitutional and legal restraints will restrict the pace and extent of this cleaning out – and, more importantly, the incoming, two-headed government (deprived of the spoils of patronage and power for so long) will have to reward its place-men and women.

Please keep pursuing your case, but remember you are starting to roll a very big stone and you are only at the foothills of the mountain.

@Richard Fehigan

re: The phenonenon, whatever the numbers, is now a FACT ( not just for individuals, Eureka) and therefore warrants dispassionate analysis geared toward incorporating it into a new Irish “industrial strategy.

You make a valid point but it is difficult to be dispassionate when you have been made unemployed by the policies of the people elected to protect to promote and defend your economic interests. The same people who have enriched themselves and their friends.

On the question of the future. The Irish economic landscape will be very bleak if emigration is not arrested and reversed. It can only be done by the provision of jobs. Some may come from the export sector but they will not come close to being enough to arrest the flow.

The country needs a targeted assisted job creation strategy on a large scale. One suggestion is for Coliite to undertake a massive tree planting scheme, using mostly the unemployed building industry labour force. These are the people who are not emigrating because many don’t have the skills required abroad.
Of course there is a separate agenda to measure up Coillte to sell it off for a quick buck, promoted by contributors to this site because of myopic ideology. The quick buck would be burned up in jig-time paying the fees and salaries of the supporters that promoted the idea in the first place.

Another job creation strategy could be to upgrade the broadband network on a fast track basis with the latest technology. This may entail buying or taking back the network from Eircom.
The essential point is that without a massive ‘new -deal’ type program of job creation we will not even arrest the tide of job losses. Whether these losses result in unemployment or emigration, the net effect is still disastrous from an economic and social viewpoint.

@Paul Hunt

“Please keep pursuing your case but….this is the wrong board to….provoke necessary change in policy formulation….. direct your ideas at FG & Labour… you are only at the foothills of the mountain.”

Many thanks, Paul. Don’t be too modest about the impact of this board – I’m not easy to impress and I think you’re all (by and large!) great guys.

I have, some time ago, pitched this stuff at very senior FG and Labour levels, they’re aware of it and they’ll do with it what they will after doing what political parties are meant to do strategically – get elected so they can take “power”. ( In fact, “power”, in Irish terms is a DIRECT function of how well or how badly political and business leaders in Ireland understand the following. And ACT on it. That’s the new definition of what remains of Irish “Sovereignty”).

All I’m doing, to some degree for my “”emigrated” Irish ( not true by MY definition) amusement is state very bluntly how things in Ireland are seen from outside so that we begin to realise that NO amount of Irish blather will change the perception and reality of what YOU, in Ireland, perhaps helped by US, not in Ireland, NEED TO DO. NOW.

Finishing on your “rolling stone” ( sisyphean!) metaphor, it’s as simple as the fact that if it takes ten men to roll the stone up the hill, nine WON’T do it and there’s no market “out here” anymore for our propaganda saying there are 40/70, whatever, million of us doing the pushing. The Riverdance view of Ireland is OVER. Seen the show. Great! Next!

@Joseph Ryan – That is the question. Or who will be left to pay off the debt taken on ‘just to ensure that ‘the gardai, nurses and teachers’ were paid?

Defined Benefit pensions are essentailly a glorified ponzi scheme at this stage. Anyone in their 30’s – early 40’s won’t see a penny from that pot. What’s the DB pension hole at the moment – €13 billion or is it 16 billion and still digging!

Unfortunatley, with the tsunami of other problems we’re having we’ve taken our eyes off this.

Still rings true – The Passing of the Gael

They are going, going, going from the valleys and the hills
They are leaving far behind them heathery moor and mountain rills,
All the wealth of hawthorn hedges where the brown thrush sways and thrills
They are going, shy-eyed cailins, and lads so straight and tall
From the purple peaks of Kerry, from the crags of wild Imaal,
From the greening plains of Mayo, and the glens of Dangle

They are leaving pleasant places,shores with snowy sands outspread;
Blue and lonely lakes a-stirring when the wind stirs overhead;
Tender living hearts that love them, and the graves of kindred dead
. They shall carry to the distant land a tear-drop in the eye
And some shall go uncomforted, their days an endless sigh
For Kathalen No Houlihan’s sad face until they die.

Oh,Kathaleen No Houlihan, your road’s a thorny way,
And ’tis a faithful soul would walk on the flints with you for aye,
Would walk the sharp and cruel flints until his locks grew grey,
So some must wander to the East, and some must wander West;
Some seek the white wastes of the North and some a Southern nest;
Yet never shall they sleep so sweet as on your mother breast.

Within the city streets, hot hurried full of care
A sudden dream shall bring them a whiff of Irish air —
A cool air, faintly-scented, blown soft from otherwhere
Oh, the cabins long-deserted! Olden memories awake.
Oh, the pleasant, pleasant places! Hush! the blackbird in the brake!
Oh, the dear and kindly voices! Now their hearts are fain to ache.

And no foreign skies hold beauty like the rainy skies they knew;
Nor any night-wind cool the brow as did the foggy dew.
They are going, going, going and we cannot bid them stay:
Their fields are now the stranger’s,where the stranger’s cattle stray,
Oh! Kathaleen No Houlihan, your way’s a thorny way!

@ JR: “The essential point is that without a massive ‘new -deal’ type program of job creation we will not even arrest the tide of job losses. Whether these losses result in unemployment or emigration, the net effect is still disastrous from an economic and social viewpoint.”

Correct conclusions. The real difficulty (as raised by PH above) is that absent a change of ‘culture’, no meaningful, long-term changes will be initiated and maintained. Its as stark as that.

You also mentioned job creation activities. I agree with you on this. Agriculture can, or will maybe, maybe deliver. Now all we have to do is to ensure that we have a sufficient number of internal migrations from urban to rural locations (long-distance commuting sucks!) – but so also will agricultural wages! Everyone want that ‘desk’ job, a regular risk-free salary and a warm pension! As I said: culture change required.

My recommendations:

1. Rebuild old rail-lines and install new ones – no Metro N nor new roads
2. Re-pipe the freshwater supply network
3. Broadband every classroom in every primary and secondary school
4. Plant broadleaf trees – especially fruit + nut varieties.
5. Impose a stiff non-habitation tax on all 1st and higher floor levels in selected urban areas – to encourage greater residential use
6. Impose stiff insulation regs on all new buildings – and where possible have a dual-water system (potable + grey) installed as default.


If you look at the CSO’s QNHS figures they show that since the middle of 2007, employment has fallen by 300,000 while unemployment has risen by 200,000. Where did these 100,000 people go? Who were they?

Only a quarter of this 100,000 difference can be attributed to Irish nationals. The remainder is due to changes in employment and unemployment among non-Irish nationals. It is likely that most of these who have left the workforce have done so by leaving the country.

This is not necessarily true for Irish nationals where there are a number of reasons why people may leave the workforce (education, emigration, retirement, work in the home etc.). This is particularly true for young males who are now going back to school with the evaporation of jobs in the construction sector.

Claims by commentators of “100,00 Irish people forced to leave the country” are wide of the mark, though it is likely that there will be some increase in Irish emigration over the next few years it will not be to the headline grabbing levels suggested in the last few days.

It is wrong to look at emigration as being inevitably bad; for young people, overseas experience can be usual as a either a wage sale or an entrepreneur.

The problem with the ‘culture’ is illustrated by the ultra vires payments of €6m at UCD.

The UCD senior management dispute the claim that the payments were unlawful; staff keep their heads down; the head of the HEA says its up to the university boards (including political cronies) to take action.

The land where the bucks stops nowhere!

It’s a classic case of believing that there are no rules because everyone else is breaking them.

There is an interesting case how an independent TD can get over €200,000 in tax-free funds over a Dáil term.

This is in addition to the raft of other allowances; the payments can be spent at the absolute discretion of the recipient and they were specifically exempted from an audit that was introduced after revelations that
Haughey had spent a public allowance on Chavret shirts:


As there seems to be no reply forthcoming to the challenge I made above, I have taken the liberty of emailing my points directly (but very politely) to Professor Alan Barrett. In the (possibly unlikely) event of my receiving a reply, I will post it on here.

I’m not sure that it is true to say that emigration is bad for the country, unfortunately. At least, not at this point in time. There is an excess of labour (amounting to nearly 20% going by S3). If people with jobs are leaving and taking those jobs with them, then that is clearly bad. If people with no jobs, who would otherwise be sustained by the state are leaving, well, that will ease the pressure on the state coffers. If people with jobs are leaving, but the jobs are remaining, then the jobs will be filled.

I think it is a much harder journey for the people leaving, their friends and families than it is for the country in the short term.

In the longer term, it is probably not good news. Emigration tends to be uneven with some areas hit much harder than others. In those hard-hit areas, the cost of sustaining the remaining population increases (whether through a downward spiral, unsustainable numbers or the embedded costs of infrastructure build for a larger population size).

@JtO – the facts are many young people are leaving.

Here’s one (of very many I have personally witnessed) – female, 27, finished her MA last year and unable to find a job (any job) since then. Going to Australia next week and will do bar work, waiting on tables, anything because she would rather be doing that than unemployed and depressed at her prospects in Ireland. She can’t even find a bar/waiting job in Ireland – each one she has applied for has at least 20-50 applicants within a day or two of people hearing about it. FACT.

You can do what you like with stats fella but take a reality check and see what’s really going on out there – with young people in particular. There are also many others – with young families and/or negative equity – who wish they could go but feel they can’t. You are starting to sound just like FF – in denial of reality.

Anyway, where’s my visa application. I must ge on with it today.

“They are going, going, going from the valleys and the hills
They are leaving far behind them heathery moor and mountain rills,”

Why is this a problem?

Ireland’s rural population, as a percentage of the whole, seems to be high by European standards at 38%. It’s up there with Greece (39%), Poland (39%) and Portugal (40%): below Slovakia (43%), Romania (46%), Slovenia (52%), Isle of Man (49%) and Liechtenstein (86%) but above Finland (36%), Lithuania (33%), Latvia (32%), Estonia (31%), Norway (22%), Sweden (15%), Denmark (13%), Iceland (8%). The original EU 6 are Italy (32%), Germany (26%), France (22%), Luxembourg (18%), Netherlands (18%) and Belgium (3%), while the UK is 10%. And the decline in the Irish rural population has been small: from 45% in 1980 to 38% in 2009.

So perhaps rural emigration is just catching up on the disastrous effects of the Land Acts, which prevented a more efficient allocation of labour in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the disastrous rural policies of successive Fianna Fáil governments, which seemed to have tried to keep voters in rural constituencies.

It would be interesting to compare sizes of economic enterprises in Ireland with those in other European countries. Could it be that non-FDI Ireland has a higher proportion of self-employed/micro-enterprise “lifestyle” businesses that are highly vulnerable to economic changes?

My source for the numbers is http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.RUR.TOTL.ZS/countries/IE-GB?display=default although I note that comparisons might not be straightforward: “Rural population refers to people living in rural areas as defined by national statistical offices. It is calculated as the difference between total population and urban population.” Perhaps someone knows of a better source.

Should the last word in the first stanza of the poem be “Donegal”?


“I’m not sure that it is true to say that emigration is bad for the country, unfortunately. At least, not at this point in time.”

And perhaps not during and after the Famine either: emigration did at least reduce a population for which no alternative employment seemed to be available.



All your posts on a wide variety of topics indicate a total lack of interest in any kind of statistical accuracy. You know someone who is emigrating. Ergo, in your view it matters not one whit what the actual figures are. In your view, it is irrelevant, and a bore to find out, whether the actual figures are 15,000, ESRI’s 60,000 or Joan Burton’s 500,000. This attitude is characteristic of the entire Irish media, of which you are a part. I predict that you will go far in your media career, as you have all the right qualities. Indeed, I recommended on this site a year ago that the Irish Times employ you as successor to Fintan O’Toole or Vincent Browne, as you clearly possess their ability to rant on all manner of subject, without any need to lower yourself to such base activity as finding out the facts.

I, in contrast, am a statistician. I try to establish the facts as accurately as I can before pronouncing on any subject, although it is not always easy or clearcut. I have observed ESRI’s forecasts on migration for the past several years and concluded that they consistently greatly exaggerate the figures, whether out of sloppiness or political motivation. This has allready been proven to be the case in 2009 and 2010, and the preliminary, although not yet conclusive, indications are that it is turning out to be the case again in 2011. I gave my reasons in detail in the earlier posts, and challenged the ESRI originator of the forecasts to reply to my points. So far, he hasn’t, which speaks volumes.

@Paul Hunt:
“Furthermore, the upper layers of the public service (in Departments, state boards and agencies) are stuffed with yes-men and women who achieved position by virtue of contributing to and maintaining the spin-machine that made their political patrons and masters look good – irrespective of the objective reality. There will have to be a serious cleaning out of the stables before major policy initiatives along the lines you favour may be formulated, scrutinised and implemented.”

I think you are right about the yes-men and -women (my own struggles with them, on a relatively minor matter, here http://irishwaterwayshistory.com/rants/the-ulster-canal/the-ulster-canal-12-departmental-bullshit/ and on related pages).

But I think you may be overestimating the difficulty of bringing about change, if the incoming government has even a small amount of backbone. Much of the strength of the spin-machine lies in its control of language and stories — and in the willingness of the established media (I think MSM, mainstream media, is the term du jour) to go along with it. The media reinforce the machine’s stories by basing their news items on the statements of politicians and other folk, with an “official opposition” comment or two to show open-mindedness and a “human interest” element to keep the readers entertained.

But in the end, it is just a matter of language and stories, and they can come from other sources too. At present, I suggest that the Broad Mass of the Ordinary Working People is displaying a wholesome unwillingness to accept the official stories — and a wholesome disrespect for the “official opposition” too. Opposition politicians could take advantage of that by refusing to use the approved language and stories: they might improve their chances of being elected and might change the basis of their leaders’ post-election relationship with the official spin-machine.

Plain English can be a powerful weapon.


@ MH – FF: “The land where the bucks stops nowhere!”

Beautiful. Classic Terry Pratchett (Discworld!).


@ BG: “But I think you may be overestimating the difficulty of bringing about change, if the incoming government has even a small amount of backbone.”

Backbone: aka Moral Fibre! Its is short supply at present.

Bringing about change, reform, new anything, is fiendishly difficult outside of certain organisational structures. The political and business institutions that need to be changed are very robust indeed and only a significant and disasterous shock will open up – only briefly, a window of opportunity. The status quo is very deeply embedded and any change – even a positive one, will be deemed a loss, hence it will be resisted. You need to observe that the individuals who control these organisations are exhibiting a genuine shift in their values. Has anyone observed this yet?

Demanding change, reform or whatever you want to term it, is usually ‘not a good idea’ – like, you might get unintended consequences. You must demand a change in culture (values). Our values drive our behaviours.



Thank you. I agree that ‘plain English can be a powerful weapon’, but I’m simply expressing my fears that the instinct to grasp and manipulate the existing and excessive plethora of levers of power and patronage – accompanied by delight in ‘it’s out turn at the trough at last’ – will prove too strong.

I’m reminded of that bright May morning in 1997 when Labour in the UK emerged triumphant and what subsequenty ensued. And my forebodings are increased when I contemplate the two-headed monster that FG and Labour will cobble together.

However, as a democrat, I retain my faith in the underlying good sense of the Irish people to make a sensible choice among the sadly inadequate offers.


Do you have any statistics showing the number of irish people between the ages of 20 and 35 who have emigrated in the last 2-3 years? Or are such numbers available?


I don’t think that they are available. The only definite figures that I know of from the CSO are that between April 2008 and April 2010 there was total net emigration of 42,000, of which 14,000 were Irish nationals and 28,000 foreign nationals. These are the net figures, ie those leaving minus those returning. Far greater numbers come and go all the time (students, people on gap years, marketing people etc etc) and are included in the gross figures. I have never seen any breakdown by age.

@JtO – grief… you are so predictable. You’re not exactly a ‘people person’ are you. There are many real problems out there and hiding behind statistics does you no service.

Shame about Harrington.

Surely this is the definition of a failed country:
One which cannot support people who have to leave and one which has to borrow to support those who stay


Well if there are no statistics to definitively say how many then opinion and experiences should also be admissable to form a complete picture of how things are. I think a lot of people in Ireland are dismayed at the numbers of educated talented young people in the 20-35 age bracket leaving the country, whilst we may not know their exact amounts i think it is reasonable to use examples like Joseph’s one above to add to the debate. I could similarly point to several frends and people i know who are also leaving…and I believe many other people who post on here and live in Ireland could cite examples of their own. I would say this is as legitimate a technique as your method of sifting through what numbers are available.

@Seamus Coffey

re:Only a quarter of this 100,000 difference can be attributed to Irish nationals. The remainder is due to changes in employment and unemployment among non-Irish nationals. It is likely that most of these who have left the workforce have done so by leaving the country.

Maybe I misunderstand your figures above but I find it hard to reconcile them with the CSO figure of 65300 leaving in the year to April 2010. I accept that the net figure is 34500 for the year to April 2010.
But the figure of 100,000 over two years, if gross emigration is being referred to, certainly seems on the cards based on the CSO figures to April 2010. If the figure of 100,000 is refering to net migration over two years then it may be overly pessimistic but only because of the lack of opportunity overseas, not because people believe that they will get work in Ireland.

This is from the indo today…“Sadly, mass emigration is back, after two decades of healthy employment. According to today’s forecasts from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), more than 100,000 people will leave the country over the next two years.

We cannot be more precise than that because, inexplicably, the ESRI declines to give its actual estimates. This follows similar coyness from the Central Statistics Office about providing — admittedly uncertain — figures for migration.

What does the indo mean when they say ” the ESRI declines to give its actual estimates” and “similar coyness from the Central Statistics Office about providing — admittedly uncertain — figures for migration.”.

I had understood that the basis for their projections were known?

@Paul Hunt..
heh heh…ill post this on the newest thread as its related.
Am interested to see what folks make of this.

Is it really possible to accurately quantify emigration.
Can someone propose robust methodology please?

This is a bit pointless. How do you measure emigration accurately?
In the absence of high quality data sources anecdotal evidence is undesirable but reasonable.
So the question is – how can we accurately measure emigration?


good question & the only ones who can answer is the ESRI & the CSO.

The uncertainty comes from that there are no direct measurements of migration in Ireland.

The actuals are inferred by comparing the results of consecutive census & knowing the number of births as well as the number of deaths the difference should be the migration.

CSO & ESRI are extrapolating to get their results. Their extrapolation is probably(?) based a lot of the trend that was spotted between 2002 & 2006. This trend is probably(?) tweaked a bit on other things. The other things would be measurables such as number of PPS numbers generated etc.

This is what the CSO has on their website:

Given that there was a definite & undisputed change in the economic trend after 2006 & that is likely to have affected migration we have some uncertainty in the model. The tweaks done to the model could be correct or not. People are biased. Although scientists try their utmost to be honest, their bias will to some extent affect their tweaks. Scientists usually have to provide their data, their assumptions & their models for others to independently verify.

I only trust statistics & statistical models that I can verify & even then I am sceptical of long-term forecasts.

The census will be in April this year & it should give actuals. It would be interesting to study how the CSO & ESRI came up with their projections but since it is being done relatively soon I’d rather wait for the outcome of the census.

Countries that have had a large immigrant population for decades are attuned to the risk of the emigrants returning to the homeland during a downturn in the economy. It is essential to give the same level of support to all residents whether they be indigenous or recent arrivals. That means unemployment benefits, health care, social assistance, job training available to all without distinction. Every warm body that leaves the country is a loss to the country that affects the whole society. Empty houses, unrented flats, retail sales declining, dentists, doctors, teachers, nurses, tradesmen and a multitude of others with reduced business.

The big danger is when the hemmhorage starts to feed on itself and quickly leads to the third world conditions that existed in Ireland pre Lemass and EU.

We are a navel gazing, clannish, tribal society overlaid with a thin veneer of civilisation and internationalism. That is the main reason emigrants do not have the vote. After all they left the clan/tribe and are now tainted by foreign influences. I have had many discussions in Germany about the depth of civilisation as the Irish and Germans understand it.

So, short of the census there’s no way of doing this even reasonably accurately.
The next one is due in 2012 isn’t it.
So in the meantime we shouldn’t talk about emigration at all!

The example of the lady going to Australia is just one of many that I am personally knowledgeable of. I have lost count of them. Particularly in Q4 2010 when many told me they were just waiting to have a ‘last Christmas’ at home with the parents before leaving.

Get engaged with the real world.

The thing that sprang out for me from the Sweden site is that Oscar is the most popular boys name in the country.

Oscar is an Irish name, made popular in Sweden via Napoleon’s admiration for a Scottish writer’s fake Irish myths and Napoleon’s naming of his godson as Oscar, the future King of Sweden. Who said globalization is new?

More seriously. The site has pages in English with immigration data by nationality and sex per year, apparently accurate to single digits, up to 2009.

The CSO document for Ireland has estimates back to 2007 and 2006 on some metrics.

@ Mickey Hickey

‘We are a navel gazing, clannish, tribal society overlaid with a thin veneer of civilisation and internationalism’

I’d paraphrase that:

‘Any credible economic or social analysis of Irish society has to take into account the small size of our island nation, our deep agrarian roots, the introverted, localist bias of our political systems and the paucity of our external cultural contacts outside the Anglophone world’

That kind of analysis holds generally true for the north as the south of Irleand. We have to start from where we are at.

I read the document linked to above by Eureka. Not quite sure what to make of it:

QNHS is being done & based on the result the from sample CSO draws conclusions.

Statistics is only as reliable as the quality of the sample. How is the sample selected?

Under the subsection ‘Emigration by nationality’ it says ‘This has been made possible by analysing the data on persons sampled in the QNHS who on subsequent visits are found to have left the country.’. That could possibly be interpreted that the same sample is being asked every year since the last census?

If that would be the case, then there might be some difficulties to include any arrivals after the census in the projections. New arrivals with new PPS numbers might not have found jobs and quickly left. This behaviour would not be so common in the period between 2002 & 2006 but might have been more common in 2007- & consequently not part of the previous trend.
Also, how would returning Irish (with PPS numbers) be included in the sample? Are the projections based only on previous trend for them? (How many anecdotal returnees? Heard more about people leaving….)

Or were PPS numbers randomly pulled every year, contact details for those PPS numbers found & these people were contacted & included in the sample?

CSOs findings are probably reasonably robust, still I wouldn’t measure anyones forecasting-reliability against anything but actuals.

I’d say trust but verify. Census will be done in April & that will give verification.

@ Jesper
Would agree with you – not perfect.
I think what they do is they select a “representative” group of households based on the census and follow them up. And I think that they use the actual census as their baseline data.
It’s not a perfect system but I wonder if it’s the best that can be done in this situation.
Just googling this it looks like most countries struggle with this kind of data collection.

Emigration is hard to measure but that should not stop us talking about it and accepting that it is now a fact again. And we should be passionate about it. There is no virtue in a lack of passion when it comes to things that really matter.
A lack of passion has lead us to the situation where we are today. A little more emotion would be useful. There really is a solution

@Paul Quigley

” the small size of our island nation, our deep agrarian roots, the introverted, localist bias of our political systems and the paucity of our external cultural contacts outside the Anglophone world’”

Take a look at the rise of Wilders in the Netherlands or Blocher in Switzerland. Beneath the thin veneer of consumerist sophistication it is the same mucksavages everywhere.

Does any country have meaningful society wide interactions with another language area ? Swiss Germans barely speak to Swiss French. the country runs 3 separate TV networks for Italian, French and German and there are 3 sets of TV stars unknown in the areas where the other languages are spoken.

Youtube comments are interesting. There are very few music videos that feature comments in several languages. Culture is still more or less defined by language silos. Hollywood does not go deep.


In answer to Ron’s point about what the Irish Independent wrote, I don’t fully understand the Irish Independent’s references to ‘coyness’ on the part of the CSO. The CSO publish their estimates annually and are available for all to see.

The factual situation is as follows:

(1) ESRI’s function is limited to producing forecasts for net emigration for periods that are wholly or partly in the future. They have no responsibility for estimating net emigration for periods that are now past. Their record over the past decade in migration forecasting is appalling. Thus, reporting their forecasts as if they were facts, which the Irish media always do, is akin to my coming on here and stating as fact that Newcastle beat Tottenham 2-1 today, simply on the basis of Mark Lawrenson making that forecast in his weekend Premiership review on BBC last night. It might prove accurate, or it might not.

(2) The CSO are not involved in forecasting for periods that are wholly or partly in the future. Forecasting is not their job. Their function is to estimate net emigration for periods that are now past, using a variety of data sources. They employ the best statisticians in Ireland to do so. They have a very high reputation internationally. There are two levels of status in the CSO estimates. They produce annual estimates each September for the 12-month period from April to April of the most recent year. Thus, their latest estimates, published in September 2010, were for the 12-month period from April 2009 to April 2010. These estimates are based on such statististical methods as household sampling, passenger movements, and others. The CSO themselves do not claim that these annual estimates are definitive. That comes with the Census carried out every 5 years. Based on the Census results, the CSO then produce revised estimates for all the years since the last Census. This may involve changes to the previous annual pre-Census estimates. However, over the past 30 years, the CSO’s record in their annual pre-Census estimates has been amazingly good, so good that, after the last Census, Garret Fitzgerald wrote an article in the Irish Times congratulating the CSO for producing such accurate pre-Census estimates. They were out by only a few hundred.

(3) With regard to recent years, there is a huge divergence between the ESRI forecasts and the CSO estimates. Thus:

(a) for the year from April 2008 to April 2009, ESRI forecast in January 2009 that net emigration for that period would be 50,000 – the following September, the CSO published their estimates for that period and put net emigration at 7,800 (of which 100% was foreign nationals)

(b) for the year from April 2009 to April 2010, ESRI forecast in January 2010 that net emigration for that period would be 70,000 – the following September, the CSO published their estimates for that period and put net emigration at 34,500 (of which 60% was foreign nationals and 40% Irish nationals)

(4) As to which of these is correct, we won’t know with total certainty until the Census is carried out. Probably next September, the CSO will produce their definitive estimates for all years since the last Census in 2006, based on the results of the April 2011 Census. We will then know for certain whether the current CSO pre-Census estimates or the ESRI forecasts are closer to the mark. Based on their past record, were Paddy Power to take bets on the matter, I’d have no hesitation in putting my money on the CSO being much closer to the mark.

Note: The final point from this post has been removed by the moderator.

“Does any country have meaningful society wide interactions with another language area?”

Haven’t we got another language area of our own, in blotches in places like Donegal, Kerry and Mespil Road, Dublin?

Not to speak of our esteem for Ulster Scots.


@Paul Quigley

Now you guys are getting into some very interesting discussions about cultural identity, roots, small islands etc.

( By the way, Japan’s being a “small island” didn’t prevent it becoming the second largest economy in the world for a long while and our British cousins from building the biggest empire since Rome. And losing it! And being “big islands” hasn’t put Australia into the global top ten economies or made Borneo or Madagascar economic forces of the future so this “island” stuff is going nowhere as a discussion).

From here, let me remind you that the massive, expensive “identité nationale” debate Sarkozy inflicted on the French ( really a politically correct cover for racist attitudes towards “Arabs” and “blacks” and an effort to steal some of of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s widespread support here) caused nothing but total confusion and rancour, fizzled out in embarrassment and did absolutely nothing to stop France being the fading “grande puissance” that she may never, in fact, have been in the first place.

Here, “we” are still clinging to the illusion that “we” are a vital partner in the Franco-German “motor” of Europe. Berlin knows different, of course, and will keep saluting the French flag as long as it doesn’t interfere with German leadership/management of “Europe” and real German economic and political engagement with its real partners, the US, Russia, China and other export markets, sorry!, I meant economies!

I repeat, this is truly fascinating, for an Irish audience, but not of much interest “out here” and the upshot of such debate may end up distracting us from what we have to do, spending more millions on “image” and spin, boring the pants off our European parners and giving very little substantial help to either Irish emigrants or those who stay in Ireland.

Boy you like a fight! Not necessarily a bad thing.
Have a look at this

The IMF’s Article IV report on Ireland published in September 2007 begins:
“Economic performance remains very strong, supported by SOUND policies. Given the Irish economy’s strong fundamentals and the authorities’ commitment to sound policies, Directors expected economic growth to remain robust over the medium term.”

Should we abolish the IMF as well? Loads and loads of people get forecasts wrong.
You have the luxury of always speaking from a position of strength. Forecasting, by it’s very nature hasn’t that luxury.

Were there times in your forecasts when you got it wrong?

I believe that Alan Barretts forecast will be right.
To increase from 34,500 net emigration in the year to April 2010 to 50,000 net for each of following two years is very credible given the current situation.
Unless of course the figures are massaged as they used be in the past by pre-retirement schemes and FAS schemes to manipulate the data.
Even with that the choice will be either unemployment, underemployment or emigration for many people coming of age to join the labour force from second or third level.

Even if Alan Barrett is overly pessimistic in his forecast that is a good thing as it should help to take the focus away from obsession with the public finances and the jobless export boom and on to the far more pressing and important issue of job creation.

Life may be a challenge for emigrants in coming years but maybe even greater for some of the unemployed who may never work again.

What can the latter be promised? A new ‘world-class’ FÁS with a rejigged army of gougers?

It’s interesting why public protests forced an early election in Iceland while the arsonists who set the Irish economy on fire have been allowed to man the fire hoses up to now?

It’s simple enough to me; despite the misery visited on tens of thousands of people, the majority are still comfortable with their bubble gains and there is no big constituency for change.

James Joyce did make a telling observation: “Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow.”


Were there times in your forecasts when you got it wrong?

JTO again:

Yes indeed, Eureka, I have been wrong lots of times, I forecast Tyrone to beat Dublin 3-16 to 0-8 last August, and lost £50 to Paddy Power in the process. I have also been wrong about house prices (which I thought would bottom out in Q1 2010), about the date of the election (I thought that, with the economy recovering, FF and the Greens would do all they could to stay on until June 2012), and about construction output (which I thought would bottom out in Q1 2010), resulting in the growth in GDP in 2010 being about 2% less than I thought, and many others. In contrast, I was right about the export boom in 2010 (which hardly anyone else forecast a year ago), about the fact that the size of wage reduction needed to restore competitiveness was being greatly exaggerated (which even Alan Ahearne now seems to agree with), and about the fact that the budget deficit would fall, if ever so slightly, in 2010. So, just like anybody, some of my forecasts were right and some were wrong. I wouldn’t condemn anyone for making a wrong forecast.

But, you are slightly missing my point, Eureka.

My point is not wrong forecasts but the politically-motivated making and reporting of forecasts as facts, especially when identical forecasts made in the past couple of years by the same people proved wrong, but without any acknowledgement by those people, or the media-reporting of them, that their previous forecasts were wrong when making and reporting the new forecasts.

Thus, if ESRI had said something along the lines of: “We now forecast to the best of our ability 100,000 net emigration between April 2010 and April 2012, but we ought to point out that we forecast 120,000 net emigration between April 2008 and April 2010, and in the event it turned out to be 42,000, of which only 14,000 were Irish nationals, so we advise caution regarding our latest forecast, even though we genuinely believe it will prove more accurate than the previous one.” and it was reported that way in the media, then I would have no complaint about their behaviour, even if their forecast proved wrong. Instead, the originator of the latest forecast is going around the world’s media, pronouncing it as fact that 100,000 Irish people will emigrate in the next two years, comparing it with the mass exodus of Irish people in the 1950s, making politically-loaded comments about who people should vote for, but without making any mention of: (a) the 100,000 is not fact as of now, but simply his forecast (b) his similar forecasts in each of the past two years turned out to be greatly exaggerated (by a factor of almost 3.0) and (c) most of those leaving are foreign nationals going home.

@ Richard Fedigan

That’s an interesting counter to Seafoid’s point about ‘mucksavages’. Whatever issues the French have with imigration, I’d say that there is a big middle class which is broadly happy with the status quo. The Germans may be roaring ahead right now, but their banks are on thin ice if we get a global double dip.

You are right about islands. There were island empires and island colonies.
We belong to the latter category. As Michael Hudson sets out in his 1992 classic Tade Development and Foreign Debt, the investment game runs under rules set by creditors. Looting and gunboat diplomacy made respectable over the centuries.

We have been trying to escape our colonial past, but it looks like those chains are still there. The MNCs brought jobs and tax, but bound us even more firmly to Anglo America, with its debt laden asset bubble economics.

You are right about the need for mobility and cultural versatility. As Pierre Bourdieu, sociologist, demonstrated brilliantly, poeople are motivated in all sorts of ways, and economies are about perceptions as much as products. How we see our selves matters just as much as what we do.

@Paul quigley

Switzerland is having its very own Bertie style house price growth miracle and the parallels with Ireland are striking.

I saw a more nuanced explanation of the Swiss-Irish angle in the Swiss French paper Le temps today but it is behind a paywall.
This is a summary.

“Daniel Kuebler, a Zurich politician, says that the concreting over of the countryside feeds a change in political attitudes. People forced into buying property in the countryside by high city prices become car dependent and heavily indebted. They consume fewer public services such as transport.

When people buy they move to the right. The space in which people live influueces the interests they have and then their political references. In Swityerland this leads to increasing support for the SVP” The SVP is the right wing nutcase party.

In Ireland FF captured this territory and in return had its political culture changed. 20 years in power out of 23. Boston over Berlin. 2 fingers to Europe. Ireland is wonderful. Low interest rates.

It will be interesting to see if Switz has a soft landing.

@Michael Hennigan

It’s interesting why public protests forced an early election in Iceland while the arsonists who set the Irish economy on fire have been allowed to man the fire hoses up to now?

JTO again:

This is nonsense. A myth is being perpetrated that, by following the course of action which it did, Iceland is recovering and Ireland is not. This is the line that David McWilliams is putting out in his media columns. Kevin O’Rourke is doing much the same on this site. As always in Ireland, one has to go and check the figures for oneself and not rely on economists, which I just did.

So, a reality check:

GDP in Iceland is forecast to have fallen by 4.5% in full year 2010 over 2009 (on top of a big fall in full year 2009 over 2008). ESRI’s latest forecast is for a 0.25% increase in GDP in Ireland in full year 2010 over 2009.

Between 2009 Q4 and the latest quarter 2010 Q3, GDP in Iceland fell by 2%, while rising by 1.6% in Ireland.

So, how exactly is the Icelandic route of mobs taking to the streets and overthrowing the Government so superior?

One of Ireland’s key strengths is political stability. How exactly would this have been enhanced by a Fintan O’Foole-led mob of a few hundred thousand taking to the streets and forcing the overthrow of the democratically-elected government. As it happens, he did try, but only about 8 people, 2 dogs, and a cat turned up. If he had been more successful, and a few hundred thousand had turned up, and the government overthrown, would Intel, Quest and Valeo have announcing major investments Kildare, Cork and Galway in the past week? Has there been a rush of world-class companies companies announcing investments in Iceland since the mob overthrew the government? Do tell us.

@ JTO,

I agree, although I wonder whether GDP figures describe the full extent of the Icelandic catastrophe. Iceland had a devaluation of 80%. So imports for Iceland have increased by 5 times.

I was also struck by an article by Elaine Byrne in The Irish Times (11/12/10) on Iceland. The beginning of the article compares Iceland favourably to Ireland and suggests that Iceland is an example we should follow. But as the article progressed I found myself feeling grateful that I lived in Ireland. Here is Byrne’s concluding paragraph:

“Ordinary Icelanders have mixed views about their future. When the property boom collapsed, two friends of mine, Brynhildur and Hinrik, lost their jobs in architecture and property conveyance. When I visited earlier this year, they were living in a tiny two-room basement of their house, having divided the rest of their home into rental apartments. Trapped in a cycle of negative equity, Hinrik has no option but to work as a fisherman in the Arctic Circle two-thirds of the year. “A dramatic shift in the mentality of the people has occurred,” says Brynhildur; “we are revaluating every priority in our lives.”
Even more tax increases, spending cuts and salary cuts are promised for 2011. The Icelandic minister for finance cancelled a trip to Trinity College Dublin two weeks ago after the failure of attempts to legislate for a bailout for mortgage holders. In a country of only 320,000 inhabitants, up to 40,000 of them may now lose their homes.

Here is a link to the article:


i think your explanation over on the emigration thread makes sense.
personally, I dont know what to make of it all. I guess the Indo editorial writer is the only person who can explain why they qualify their analysis of the CSO data in particular.

As you say…the figures have been reliable in the past so maybe we need a bit of faith in their source data, and at the same time try not to be fooled by how it is reported.

would be nice to be able to rely on the figures for a definitive view of the truth, but i guess life just isnt that simple.

“i think your explanation over on the emigration thread makes sense.”…

sorry…ignore over on the emigration thread

I know it’s less exciting than thrashing Professors but does anybody think that we should scrap the EU/IMF deal and instead negotiate a flexible credit line with the IMF?

@ Paul Quigley

You’re obviously a thinking man so let me try to incorporate some of your valid points into a “fil rouge” that takes us from where I joined you guys before Christmas on the topic of the need for a new “industrial” strategy, ( and the concomitant urgent need for the new government to set up an accountable mechanism to bring this new strategy about), through fiscal dumping, the need to appoint competent negotiators to deal with the German monkeys and organ grinders, and on to emigration and “our” attitudes to it as an integral part of this new strategy.

( I wouldn’t presume to “counter” Seafoid’s point about us all being “mucksavages” under various veneers, as this is surely so obvious as not to be worth argument.

Also, to finish with relatively superflous discussion about France, the middle class here is NOT, in fact, all that happy with the status quo and is, in aggregate, floundering around looking for someone to blame for the fact that crime and insecurité are rising, young people can’t find jobs and are measured as being less well educated, living standards are falling and “Sarko” and alternative “leaders” don’t seem to have the answers.)

You contend that “how we see ourselves matters just as much as what we do.” In fact, what MATTERS most now is how OTHER people see us AND what we do.

Our European partners feel that we have been silly, profligate, arrogant, incompetent and didn’t “net contribute” to “Europe” when we had the money.

They feel, even if it’s relatively recently, and regardless of whether they’re right or wrong, that we’ve been fiscally dumping on them for over 20 years.

They feel that they are the customers of the Anglo American MNCs you refer to as being the bringers of debt laden asset bubbles and banking crises to Europe but that the jobs and the corporation taxes stayed in Ireland.

The other, OTHER people that perceive this dissatisfaction among their customers are the CEOs of the US MNCs who are asking themselves ( notwithstanding a couple of hundred new jobs at Intel or Valeo) just how long they will continue to invest in Ireland for EZ markets that are increasing and proportionately less important for them ( the MNCs) than booming Asian markets.

As, in any event, the growth-driving MNC exports from Ireland are NOT appreciably diminishing unemployment in Ireland, and regardless of whether the immigration figures are strictly accurate, the attitude towards and the actuality of immigration can either be denied or ignored, but it can’t be avoided.

So, we either embrace it as an integral skill, experience and revenue-acquisition element of a new “industrial” strategy that is needed anyway or we moan and groan about our mammies and daddies losing another generation to it.

Finally, and quoting sociologists, you correctly state that “people are motivated in all sorts of ways”.

My contention, Paul, is that as a “small island” tossed around in a global economy that influences us much more than we can influence it , we need to adapt how we see ourselves, AND what we do, to this reality. This reality should become our motivation as there isn’t any other right now.

The manner in which we are perceived to be doing this by the OTHERS I’ve already mentioned is what will determine our immediate survival and future success.

It’ll take a mindset change on our part and I’m positive we can do it at home and abroad.

@John Martin

In order to compare post-crisis Iceland and post-crisis Ireland one would need to look at per capita GDP among other things. Of course the difference on that score between the two countries is a Good News/Bad News kind of thing.

People are unfortunately only reliably motivated by fear or self interest. If you can’t tap into them they’ll not bother too much.
The “perception” of others only matters if they are making decisions to invest in the economy.
What the average Jacques on the street thinks about us isn’t worth that much. He’s probably got his own grumbles.

Comparing iceland and ireland needs to involve more than just current growth and gdp, at this early stage. Another important factor is how much private bank debt did iceland manage to avoid taking responsibility for by adopting their own approach..compared to the amounts Ireland is hefting onto its shoulders by adopting the patented “cheapest bailout in the world” approach.(not sure we need to patent it though, dont think too many will be stealing the idea off us…)…this debt will effect us for years to come..whereas Icelands avoidance of a similar fate may mean a very different future for them. Worth considering I feel.

@ Richard Fedigan

Middle class earners are under pressure everywhere and the lashing out at someone to blame usually happens under close direction and at the moment across Europe one of the main scapegoats is Islam. Geert Wilders in the Netherlands has 30% support in opinion polls and says that the Koran is equivalent to Mein Kampf. This is a very disturbing development in a continent with such a long history of religious violence . In the US, wages have been stagnant for 30 years and chaos has led many to religious fundamentalism.

If some people in France see a difference between Anglo american and European MNCs one would tend to wonder why. It is after all the same system on both sides of the Atlantic. Indeed, most of the bank bondholders who got their pound of flesh out of Ireland were European.

The faith in Asian growth is more hope than reality based. India and China are unlikely to replace the combined EU market as cash cows for multinationals for many years, if ever. 43% of Chinese and 70% of Indians are subsistence farmers. L Oreal says “because you are worth it “ but not so many chinese women have the money.

In my experience, people on the continent have a neutral view of Ireland, if they have one at all. Most people wouldn t give it much thought. I think a lot of the self flagellation is overdone. Sure Ireland was rural later than other countries but so what ? Ireland got sucked into a property bubble that got out of hand. This happens more frequently than countries would like to admit. The people will hopefully learn from the experience and move on. There is no evidence of inherent flaw in the national character that marks Ireland out from anywhere else in Europe . I think the education levels of Ireland s younger people will stand to them and is more relevant than what sort of landholding their grandparents may have had.

The challenge for all of Europe is how to respond to the changes that are coming down the line. I actually think Ireland will be in a better position than a lot of the grandes nations with their much larger populations.

I also wonder what is going to happen when the oil runs out. Our economies and societies are very complex and what is likely to happen if the economies break down ? Will today s levels of tolerance be upheld ?
Most Israelis wouldn t bet on it.

Annoying to see Enda spouting on about us being the laughing stock of Europe.
1: Europe doesn’t think about us
2: Europe has enough laughing stocks of its own – look at Berlusconi
When will our leaders stop caring so much about being liked by the Europeans?
It’s the Irish people they need to serve. And they need to engage with the EU assertively.
We have a great little country. We are the most productive workers in Europe with the strongest export performance (second only to Germany). Our leaders are sycophantic patsies willing to inflict whatever pain is necessary to please Mr Sarkozy who is not even liked by his own people.
Sorry for the rant. It’s time to start acting like a proper country and fight for our interests

Unfortunately, “laughing stock” would be fine. It is “hate figure” I worry about.

Iceland was heading for a catastrophe and turned it into a collapse.
Ireland was heading for a crash and the ruling class – with their blanket bank guarantee – turned it into a collapse, possibly worse than Iceland’s in the long term. If Iceland is worse off then, given where the two countires started, that still means Ireland has performed disastrously.

Regardless whether it’s 34,000 or 50,000 if any of them are “forced” and I use that term in the economic sense then even one is too many.
The social cost both to the country and to the individuals/families is huge – grandparents unable to see their grandkids for example – of course we cannot measure this sortof thing and so it remains hidden in the lies, lies and damned statistics but there is a human element to all of this thats seems to get forgotten.


The social cost both to the country and to the individuals/families is huge – grandparents unable to see their grandkids for example

JTO again:

Of the net emigration of 34,5000 estimated by the CSO in the year to April 2010, no less than 20,100 were foreign nationals going home. How exactly does this make it more difficult for grandparents to see their grandkids?

“Of the net emigration of 34,5000 estimated by the CSO in the year to April 2010, no less than 20,100 were foreign nationals going home. How exactly does this make it more difficult for grandparents to see their grandkids?”
Erm, you’re subtracting a gross figure from a net figure. 27,700 Irish nationals emigrated, 37,600 foreign nationals…

34,500 – 20,100 = 14,400 which even for a statistician like yourself is greater than the one I referred to in my earlier post. Let me tell you a little story. It’s now Sunday night as I sit here in Brisbane after finishing dinner with my kids grandparents who leave here next Friday to return to Ireland. Given the fact that my parents are in their 80’s and I have three kids it is highly unlikely that they will ever see each other again. Enough said Mate!!!


43″% of Chinese and 70% of Indians are subsistance farmers. Of course that means that 57% of Chinese 30% of indians are NOT subsistance farmers. Already.

Or almost 1,500,000 members of a nascent middle class, very many of whom have already passed the “critical” watershed of $4,000 annual per capita GDP.

Please be aware that L’Oréal, which sells as much shampoo as its its more “cosmetic” products, and all other MNCs are fully aware of this.

Mightn’t be a bad idea if some of our emigrants ( some hopefully temporary) knew just a little bit more about these markets…. to which we export virtually nothing!

Of course that should have been 1.5billion members of the nascent middle class, already.

“Unfortunately, “laughing stock” would be fine. It is “hate figure” I worry about”

We won’t be hated if we play our cards right.
If we don’t accept the EU/IMF fund as it currently stands we can be the people who refused to subsidize the reckless banks as opposed to the people that refused to pay back its neighbours.

I think that awful man Lennihan will bully the opposition into accepting this rubbish though in which case we can only hope to draw down as little of it as possible before renegotiating the deal. (Obviously we would pay back whatever we had to from that fund)

We must not move from a position where we owe money to banks to where we owe money to fellow governments.


“The “perception” of others only matters if they are making decisions to invest in the economy.

Ummm! Well spotted, Eureka.

“Others” are making decisions “to invest in the economy” (I presume you mean in the Irish economy) on a daily basis: “other” consumers when they buy an “Irish” export, or not; international bond holders ( including ” other” pension funds) when they loan (more) money to Ireland through buying our debt , or not; shareholders in Valeo, when they buy the shares of a (French) company adding a few jobs to the Irish economy, or not; taxpayers in “other” Irish export markets when they support politicians who blame “speculators” and fiscal dumpers” and say “we’ve” given enough of our ( banks’!) money in bailouts to profligate peripheral economies; “other” journalists and commentators who prepare the ( positive or negative) perceptions of their readers vis à vis the Irish emigrants arriving in their economies to find work they can’t find in Ireland; “other” employers who will pay Irish emigrants a living wage ( or not), some of which they can send home to their families to spend in the devastated Irish domestic economy which is desperately clinging for survival on exports to…..others! Again, Eureka, well spotted.

Any chance of a serious discussion on emigration now that it’s a fact, whatever the exact numbers?


On emigrant voting rights, Peter Geoghegan has a piece in today’s Irish Times that I very much agree with:


“More than 110 countries allow passport holders living abroad to vote. Ireland, with its long history of emigration, is not among of them. Unlike citizens of, say, Ghana, Germany or the Dominican Republic, Irish people living outside the republic are barred from directly participating in the electoral process. Greece, the only other EU member with a similar policy, is in the process of amending its legislation following a successful appeal by two Greek nationals living in France that the law breached the European Convention on Human Rights.” One wonders if a correlation with the present state of both states exists?

As Noreen Bowden, editor of GlobalIrishVote.com, has pointed out, denying emigrants their right to vote has long suited Irish political elites: “Ireland’s refusal to allow emigrants voting rights is a tremendous advantage for the insiders of the political establishment, ensuring that a big proportion of those most affected by the economic downturn won’t be around to cast their verdict.”

Think we have had more than enough of a good many of these ‘insiders’. Looking forward to policy docs on this issue in the upcoming election.

@ Richard Fedigan

Income data noted. Yes, 30% of Indians are not subsistence farmers. 20-25% of them live in slums.

L’Oréal may sell cheaper shampoos but that is not where the margins are. Do you remember “Tramp” by Lenthéric ? The brand was top of the marketing charts in Ireland back in the 80s before Ireland got rich. Now Lenthéric focuses on South Africa.


There is a lot of work to come selling sexuality and scent to China and India but it is a very long term play. I was on a plane to Delhi a while ago and observed an air hostess spraying perfume onto her underarm area as the plane landed. So there is some educational work to do.

Knowledge of these markets is very important and Ireland has very little to date. That should change. But blind faith in emerging markets should also be robustly challenged.


” In the long term, the argument for the emerging markets is overwhelming. They start from a lower base, have more favourable demographics and have huge populations waiting to consume. ”

These conditions have been in place since decolonisation. Many of these markets have not developed since then. What is different now ? Is it just because there is excess liquidity looking for yield? Wasn’t this also the case that led to the debt crises of the 70s ? Do the investment wallas writing this stuff have any insight into the latest thinking in development studies ? Any idea why these countries are where they are?


“Any idea why these countries are where they are?”

If, by “these countries” you mean China and India, “where they are” is where the biggest MNCs in the world in food and consumer goods are increasingly deriving most, not only of their sales, but also of their profitablility growth regardless of the margins. ( For l’Oréal, the lady spraying perfume under her arms represents volume AND high margin. Let her educate herself ‘cos she’s worth it!)

In technology, communications and transport, it is also in “these countries” that most sales growth is happening. Profitability will follow but, increasingly the profitability will not be coming “home” to the former colonial countries whose companies are increasingly being bought by companies, private and public from “these countries”.

“Sales”, for example of aircraft to China increasingly come with agreements that enhance China’s ability to supply components and ultimately produce aircraft themselves.

This thread is about emigration. Ireland exports nothing to “these countries” and Irish export executives have virtually no experience of the burgeoning markets in “these countries”.

Instead of going to the UK, Canada and Australia, the real pity is that we seem to have very few Irish young people “highly educated” enough to make any contribution to, or learn anything about, “these countries”!

@ Richard Fedigan

“very few Irish young people “highly educated” enough to make any contribution to, or learn anything about, “these countries”!”

Where do the think the problem is ? I think the umbilical link to the Anglophone world was good when that part of the world was growing but now it is not so clear. There aren’t many openings in the US or the UK. Irish foreign language skills are poor which is another factor.

Ireland doesn’t have a Mittelstand of medium sized world class industries like Germany. This seems to be a English language thing as well.

How good do you think the IDA is ?

Ireland is also now reaping the fruits of a decade of school dropouts to feed the building industry.

FWIW I spent 3 years working in India. I think the hope that India will develop is laudable but I didn’t see anything on the ground to convince me that the country can leave its old problems of corruption and population growth behind. The combined wealth of India’s handful of billionaires is equivalent to 20% of GDP. That comes across to me as looting.

@ Seafoid

Good for you(r) spirited response Seafoid. And particularly for your 3 years working in India.

My own three years working with a major Indian outfit ( basically telecommunications but diversified into energy, fmcg, credit, insurance & pensions, with truly global US and European partners), with many visits but not based there, confirm some of what you’re saying but as to your question “where do I think the problem is?”, well, right now it’s in Europe and particularly in Ireland!

We, too ( and not only in Ireland) surely, have had our share of “looting”, as you put it, n’est pas?

I guess, to come back on track a bit ( emigration, right?) some of our young people are quite well “educated”, although hardly “highly educated” compared, for example, to thousands of US-educated Indian engineers and MBAs who are voting with their feet by going BACK to booming India while “ours” are leaving for fairly saturated “Anglo” marlets like Canada, Australia and ummmm, the UK!

As you say, MANY of our ex-construction sector workers are certainly not “highly educated” by any stretch of the imagination.

So, thank you Seafoid, apart from dealing with de facto emigration by concluding it’s a “bad thing”, could this be the start of a serious debate about it?


Sorry but I can’t resist some news from my own former sector ( global food & consumer products) and one in which a lot of hope ( and hype) for the Irish indigenous sector seems to reside, but it looks like Boparan is about to trump Greencore’s UK plans for a “merger” with Northern Foods. Advantage India! Ireland’s not the only country with a diaspora!

Whatever about the massive poverty in India, India’s middelstand is bigger than ours. India’s multinational sector is bigger than ours.

India has Reliance, Tata, Bharti, etc,. Ireland has, ehm, Iona and CRH and Glen Dimplex. India is 1.x billion, we’re 4.5 million. Let’s not start to make too many comparisons!

Comparisons with India probably won’t help solve Irish emigration. Exports to India might, but it could take a while.

German industry was seriously disrupted during WW1, hyperinflation 1920s’, and during and after WW2. After WW2 many of the largest companies were broken up as matter of policy by the Allies. The highly educated and skilled employees of the disbanded companies went on to found companies of their own. This was the foundation of the Mittelstand. The state proved to be unreliable due to the three major disruptions in the twentieth century, this led to more reliance being placed on the family and friends which also promoted small business start ups (Ireland was strong on the same front at one time.). If I was to make excuses for Ireland it would be that we had very little prosperity and too much searing poverty over the last couple of centuries. The three serious set backs were 1845-47, 1987 and beginning 2007. A country like Germany had the Franco-Prussian war, WW1, 1920s’ HyperInfl., WW2, 1947 currency collapse, they learned the hard way and do not forget.

We are also learning and our behaviour will change from electing a gov’t to dole out favours to electing a government to sail the ship of state through rough economic seas while keeping it on an even keel.

You all realise of course that Irish emigrants detest FF and FG in equeal measure, the anybody but FF-FG vote would be around 75%. The fact that Irish emigrants do not have the right to vote in Irish elections does not surprise me.

We should also keep in mind that there is good reason to believe that the Irish have functioned well in well governed foreign countries as diverse as English, Spanish and French speaking. It is at home beside the turf fire in the snug (office) that the culture is dysfunctional. In other words as individuals we are salvageable, collectively we are a problem.

I saw this post:


& although it can be seen/read as just another anecdote it might indicate something more.

As for the demographics in Ireland, although the emigration-numbers might be accurate, I have some doubts about the immigration-numbers as those seem unlikely to be captured in QNHS.
Moving from a job in one country to another country where a job is not waiting and to make matters worse, have high unemployment is not an easy decision to make. Anyone looking for a job in Ireland from abroad now will have to be in possession of some very rare and needed skills to have a reasonable chance of success as employers are more likely to prefer to recruit locally.

aw well did you ever hear the phrase crying over spilled milk- look whats done is done and their is little that the new government can do about it.

In my opinion the last government should of seen this coming a mile off if their was any likihood of ireland being rescued now people cant afford to pay their morgage or put their children through education and this generation is forced to emigrate
I do think that ireland will come to the stage where their will be no around to pay the taxes as us young people will be gone. God it feel like history is repeating itself again, wouldnt you love to go back in time knowing what you know now and change how everything panned out
The only thing is the whole EU is in this together and america doesnt look to great either.
Ireland should have never gone into the euro!!!

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