Census 2011 – Preliminary Results

The preliminary results of last April’s Population Census are available here.

They show continued strong population growth, averaging 1.6% a year over the last five years.

The CSO is to be complimented on the timely production of this very informative release.

32 replies on “Census 2011 – Preliminary Results”

The census figures, at first glance, show that the CSO has underestimated net immigration in the 2006-2011 period, and that the population is around 100k bigger than we might have expected given their previous estimates. Their previous estimate for the 4 year period Apr 06-Apr 10 was for net immigration of 63k, though the true figure for the five years is 118k. Given presumed net emigration in the most recent year, the discrepancy is even bigger.

They may have underestimated the natural increase in the population, though I always thought that was fairly easy to track (count the babies!). I think that the figures by nationality, when released, will be particularly interesting.

Of course these are prelimianary figures, and as the CSO warn a cohort analysis based on a number of key demographic variables such as age, gender and nationality is required before a more definitive picture of migration patterns can be extracted.

That said, well done JTO!

Take a bow John the Optimist…

Where is Joan Burden and the emigrating thousands now?

Wow a shock to the system
There was I thinking the dramatic GNP shrinkage would be mitigated by people leaving these shores.
It seems the consumption per person has undertaken a much more dramatic shrinkage.
We are in uncharted waters here.

Now we know why public transport is dying in this country.
The figures for Cork are particullary disturbing.
Cork is perhaps the most compact of the larger cities in this state yet its population is declining while Cork county is exploding.
This is a sort of reverse industrialisation – the new settlement patterns are more akin to previous subsistence agriculture rather then modern urban living.
While such archaic settlement patterns are optimum when growing your own food we are not there yet.
We are perhaps the most oil dependent European country now perhaps because we have this crazy scattered settlement pattern.
The misuse and malinvestment of resourses has been on a epic scale.
The amount of money we export for cars & fuel is money externalised from this state.
Unless we divorce ourselves from this madness we will be forced to continue to engage in unsuitable & unsustainable high growth policies to pay for our decadence.
This will make us even more vulnerable to the various international loan sharks that plague this planet.

@Ronnie O’Toole
“They may have underestimated the natural increase in the population,..”

Why do you think they may have underestimated this figure?

I suppose that the did exactly as you suggesed and used the births and deaths registers for the period and then used the preliminary census figures to arrive at a net migration figure. Anyway that’s what I would take from this.

“Births and deaths combined give the natural increase in the population. With births of 363,500 and deaths of 140,700 over the relevant five year period the resulting natural increase between 2006 and 2011 was 222,800 or 5.3 per cent of the 2006 population over the five years.”

The Vacant Dwellings bit on P.18 is interesting.

“The 2006 Census provided figures for the first time on vacant dwellings in Ireland and the data showed that 15.0 per cent of all housing was vacant in April 2006. These Preliminary Results show that the total number of vacant dwellings in 2011 has increased by 27,880 from 266,322 to 294,202. As the total housing stock has also increased since 2006 by 13.3 per cent – higher than the 10.5 per cent increase in vacant dwellings – the overall vacancy rate (i.e. the percentage of dwellings that are vacant) has therefore fallen slightly to 14.7 per cent.”

How does this fit with the ‘ghost estates’? When is a dwelling a vacant dwelling, and when is it an incompleted build?

Exactly. JtO got it right while the ESRI et al. got it wrong. We have not seen the massive emigration they predicted and our population has proved more resilient than they forecast. In any case most of the emigration we’ve seen is Poles and Slovaks heading home now that building work has dried up. It’s different in character and level than that in the 1980s and 50s.

It’s good to see the population closer to 5 rather than 4 million in the Republic. If the growth keeps up we’ll be getting 1 or 2 European Parliament seats back. I’d say that it will hit 4.8 million in the next census as the natural increase more than cancels out the net emigration we’re currently experiencing.

So the advantage of the population rise is to to increase our representation in a powerless parliament !!!!!
In a world of decreasing natural resourses its better to have less people per acre not more.
Do you want Ireland to repeat the mistakes of the UK which is in chronic physical deficit – when the oil runs out over there they are buggered.
The only thing keeping them afloat is London which somehow produces paper that others recognize as Legitimate.
One of the few advantages Ireland has left is a still low population density by European standards – if we throw that away again we will experience another spud dependencey before the next probable collapse.

@ DoC

Consumption per capita here. As you suggest it is continuing to fall.

The initial findings on migration from the Census should not be a real surprise. Although, only a survey the QNHS has been indicating as such for the past year or so and we have been told the same here often enough!

@ Gadge & Ronnie O’Toole

“Take a bow John the Optimist…”

John the Optimist was last heard of taking a trip to Iceland, making pointed remarks about ‘welshing’, with his hand firmly clamped on his wallet. Perhaps irate locals have taken him on a one way trip to a volcano.

Hold your horses. Both censuses are snapshots either side of a peak. They don’t disprove theories on emigration

How can anyone conclude that the ESRI underestimated net outward migration in 2009 and 2010?

All we know for a fact is the population in 2006 and 2011 and the total of deaths and births. Total net migration is a balancing figure and we don’t have any breakdown by year.

All we know is the total net migration from 2006-2011. So the ESRI might have underestimated inward migration in 2006,7,8 and still be absolutely correct on outward migration in 2009,2010.

Yes maybe we can all agree that private consumption was ridiculous a few years ago but now the pendulum has shifted to the other direction.
Many lads are too scared to drink a few pints of Beamish now.
Also domestic utility investment has probably been cut back to crazy levels also.
Looking at Cork city / county numbers – well places like Carrigaline & Balincolig are effectivally part of a much larger city then appears on the register – this line of urban development is relatively dense as it follows the river upwards.
The Fact that there is no LUAS system to cater for this very large & affluent population boggles the mind.
But it appears we have entered a very large balance sheet depression / war economy for spurious monetory reasons – a mirror image of the 1997 – 2007 EMU boom
The Germans might as well Park a few Diesal subs off the Old Head – crazy stuff.

@ Japdip

That is correct and the Census cannot tell us anything about the intervening years. The Census will give a number for 2006 and a number for 2011, the best that can be done between that is to calculate an annual average. This annual average is a higher number than was previously suggested.

Outward migration could be as high in 2009 and 2010 as the ESRI projected but the evidence to support that is lacking, particularly in the case of Irish nationals.

@Ronnie O’Toole / Others.

Ist is not clear to me that one can draw the conclusion that we do not have 50,000 people emigrating per year from the data. It may not be but does the data disprove it.

Pop 2006 4240
Nat increase at 45/year 225
Subtotal 4465
Net immigtation (per R O’T) 118
Pop 2011 4581.

Possible net Immigration:
Immigration 2006/2008 308 Balancing figure/No ref.
Emigration foreign Workers (2009/2011) 90 Ref A
Emmigration Irish (2009-2011) 100 ESRI
Net Immigration total period (per above) 118. R O’Toole.

Ref A: Taken approx from S. Coffey http://economic-incentives.blogspot.com/2010/12/employment-and-unemployment.html#more.

Whatever the true real figures are it is clear that there was a huge level of immigration in the 2006/2008 period.

Is there any definitive data on this.


“How does this fit with the ‘ghost estates’? When is a dwelling a vacant dwelling, and when is it an incompleted build?”

From the doc – enumerators had to make a call on that :

“Dwellings under construction and derelict properties are not included in the count of vacant dwellings. In order to be classified as under construction, the dwelling had to be unfit for habitation because the roof, doors, windows or walls had not yet been built or installed.”

@Joseph Ryan
How can we be sure of anything in a juristiction with no capital or subsequent labour controls – the situation is just too fluid and makes a mockery of any long term strategic planning.
Sometimes Gut feelings are a better indicator especially from people who are exposed to the coal face on a daily basis.
Hospital registrars maybe a better trend indicator of demographics , such a massive drop in GNP and such a substantial increase in population does not make sense to me – the situation is very bad but it would possibly be much worse if the above 2 metrics were correct.
Then again I am living in a city which has experienced a drop in population……. so my experience could be skewed.
But at the same time North Cork satellite towns are dead !!
What the hell is going on ?

Surprise, surprise! So, all those media reports at the time of the election about a new diaspora have turned out to be untrue after all, just like I said at the time that they were. A lot of economists and commentators in Ireland have egg on their face tonight, and I trust that they will apologise when they next appear in print. I also trust that ESRI will be forthcoming with some explanation as to why they got it so wrong. We all make mistakes. But, at the very least, today’s figures should teach us all the difference between a forecast and a fact. The nonsensical situation whereby, every time ESRI or some similar body publish an emigration forecast, it is then reported, whether by the opening of a thread here, or in the media, as if it were a fact, must end.

Although this is not a political site, I would suggest that when misinformation on this scale, about a topic so historically important and sensitive as emigration from Ireland, is churned out by the media, it constitutes an attack on democracy. The fact is that, at the time of the election, the electorate were led to believe that a new Irish diaspora was in full flow. It has turned out to be a hoax. Democracy requires that the electorate is given accurate information about what is going on in society, and, in this case, they didn’t get it. I am not suggesting that it would have reversed the election result, if the truth had been known at the time. Clearly, FF were exhausted and it was time for a change. They were always going to lose, and deservedly so. It is good for governments to rotate, and FG/Labour are doing ok. Actually, I can’t see any difference between them and FF. However, the media vilification of FF, at the time of the election, as the incarnate of all evil, ruthlessly driving a whole generation of Irish youth to foreign shores, needs to be reviewed. The fact of the matter is that, between 1991 and 2011, during which time FF were in government almost 90 per cent of the time, total net immigration into Ireland amounted to 472,164, or an annual average of 23,608, almost identical to the annual average of 23,730 recorded between 2006 and 2011. Had this been promised in 1991, it would have been laughed at.

As my posts here repeatedly made clear, I never believed for a moment all the claims about a mass exodus from Ireland, whether the 60,000 to 70,000 annually claimed by ESRI, the 200,000 annually claimed by TASC, or the 500,000 annually claimed by Joan Burton. The figures simply didn’t support such ludicrous claims. No one can accuse me about being reticent, in my posts here over the past couple of years, about describing all these claims as nonsense. And, nonsense is what they have turned out to be.

Among the figures I used were the QNHS figures for the population aged 15 plus, which the CSO publish quarterly. I repeatedly drew attention to the fact that these did not support ESRI claims of net emigration running at the rate of 60,000 to 70,000 annually. In response, ESRI argued that the CSO were under-estimating net emigration and stuck by their claims. If the ESRI claims had been correct, the population revealed by the census would have been 100,000 lower than the pre-census CSO estimates. In fact, it has turned out to be 100,000 higher. So, ESRI were out by 200,000. But, these were not the only figures. Unlike, say, the CSO unemployment or inflation figures, which relate only to Ireland, CSO migration figures relate both to Ireland and the countries with which Ireland is having migration flows. And, these all publish figures too. Thus, if had been true that there was a new mass exodus from Ireland on the scale claimed by ESRI and others, one would expect to see this reflected in the figures published in other countries for the number of Irish-born residents. But, as I posted here a few times, this was not happening. The ONS in the UK publish figures every quarter for the number of foreign-born residents there. They showed the number of Irish-born residents in the UK continuing to fall by about 10,000 annually right up to 2010 (the latest published), even though many in Ireland were claiming a mass exodus from Ireland to the UK was under way. Ditto with the US. The US publishes an annual American Community Survey. The most recent ones show a big fall in the number of Irish-born residents in the US each year right up to 2010 (the latest published). In addition to these figures, there were lots of other figures that indicated indirectly that the population was still growing much more strongly than would have been the case if the migration forecasts of ESRI and others had been accurate – among these: (a) the figures for the number of births – up almost 20 per cent since 2006, an unlikely eventuality if the emigration claims had been accurate (b) the number of students enrolled in the education system (all levels) (c) the number on the electoral register (d) the number of new house completions between 2006 and 2011 – if the emigration claims had been accurate, there would have been virtually no demand for any new houses – yet, almost 250,000 were built in that time and, based on Daft and other surveys, the vast majority were being occupied, which has been confirmed by today’s census figures.

There are a number of implications, both economic and non-economic, from today’s figures. Maybe, some will be discussed in future threads, so I will just list them, rather than go into detail on them:

(a) Based on past experience, it is very likely that the figure for the number in employment will be revised up. The last time the census revealed a population higher than estimated pre-census was in 1979. Then, too, the population turned out to be approximately 100,000 higher than estimated pre-census. Within a year or so, the figure for the number in employment was revised up by a similar amount.

(b) Ditto with GDP/GNP. Following the 1979 census, and its revelation that the population was 100,000 higher than estimated pre-census, the GDP/GNP figures for all years since the previous census were revised up by 2 to 3 per cent. It had been thought that there was a recession in 1975, but it was revised away following the census revelation. I am certainly not suggesting that this recession will be revised away, but I would not be in the least surprised if the fall in GDP is revised. The fall in GDP between 2007 and 2010 has allready been revised from 12.1 per cent to 10.2 per cent. It would not surprise me in the least if, following the census, it is eventually revised to a fall of 7-8 per cent. The exact amount of revision for both GDP/GNP and the number in employment will depend on what proportion of the extra 100,000 persons are of working-age (20-64).

(c) Some non-economic ones. Ireland’s figures for birth rate, fertility rate, mortality rate, road deaths rate, suicide rate, and a host of others, will now be revised down by about 2.5 per cent.

There is another interesting possibility resulting from today’s figures. I think it is quite likely that the number of foreign-born persons living in Ireland now exceeds the number of Irish-born persons living abroad. We need to await the detailed census figures to be certain of this. But, from census in various countries around 2001, it was estimated that the number of Irish-born persons living abroad was around 800,000. We know from the ONS that the number in the UK has fallen by 150,000 since then. And, we know from the American Community Survey that the number in the US has also fallen sharply since then. It may be as low as 600,000 now. But, even in 2006, the number of foreign-born persons living in Ireland had reached 650,000 and, based on today’s figures, will certainly have increased significantly by 2011. This is quit a turnaround. At the time of independence, the number of Irish-born persons living abroad was almost 1 million, while the number of foreign-born (including UK-born as foreign) persons living in Ireland was only 100,000.

@Sarah Carey

Thanks. You are badly missed in the Irish Times. Please get yourself a job in the national media asap, as we need you. Talking of the Irish Times, it is a real tragedy that Dr Garret Fitzgerald is not around to analyse the census figures in the Irish Times this time round. He would have made sense of them better than anybody.

Slightly off-topic, the census figures got all the publicity, but the vital statistics for 2010 were also published this week. They showed the number of deaths in 2010 down a record 6% on 2009 and, at just over 27,000, the lowest ever recorded, even tough the population is soaring. The decade-long recession in Ireland’s undertaking and coffin-making industries shows no sign of abating, and for the workers employed in those industries, the situation is now increasing grave as their industry appears to be dying. All this is despite the fact that 2010 saw, not one, but two exceptionally cold winters (Jan-Mar and then Dec). A couple of decades ago, this would have led to a surge in the number of deaths. One of the reasons why that didn’t occur in 2010, indeed the reverse occurred, is the huge improvement in the quality of housing conditions in Ireland. Professor Walsh wrote a paper a few years ago, highlighting the fact that Ireland’s age-standardised mortality rate was plummeting at a far faster rate than in any other EU country. It had been feared that this would be reversed in the recession. But, in fact, the opposite is occurring. The fall is accelerating. Perhaps, Professor Walsh could update his paper?

@John the Optimist and Sarah Carey

I agree that the demographic numbers are amazing – continuing immigration for most of the years since 2006, the birth rate at record levels, and the death rate slumping. And despite predictions from many quarters that the high unemployment rate would lead to a surge, the suicide numbers fell by 8% in 2010.
One is tempted to ask: What recession?!

On a lighter note, I too had thought that the declining death rate would have caused a slump in the undertakers’ trade but a recent visit to a country graveyard revealed that during the boom most of the worn old headstones had been replaced by gleaming new ones made from imported (Chinese) granite.


Congragulations Triple AAA category. As with all of these National Economic Statistics numbers you were spot on again . Of course none of the Celebrity economists would recognise that fact except to keep pouring out negative astronomical figures on debt. Seamus Coffey from UCC is the one economist I read and believe on the debt figures and JTO on GDP/GNP and employment/emigration figures.

Joan will be a bit embarrased with her gaffe in september 2009 on the half a million leaving number. As regards ESRI they will probably say they are referring to those leaving between 2010 and 2012 which I think they put at 100,000.

It seems a bit alarming that 100,000 people have been discovered and that this might lead to quite a few stats being updated. Perhaps more attention to ongoing data is needed.

However the broad point is that hope is not lost. Ireland will have a young population, and can be place of interest to other young people moving internationally. If we can learn from our mistakes and successfully educate people in areas where there is demand then we again grow faster than other places and diminished any residual effects from our debt binge. Hopefully better systems will then be put in place to prevent a complete rerun of the 1990-2010 period.

I remain completely unconvinced that the census data prove or indicate that Ireland does not have a serious problem with Irish Nationals emigrating.
The data show shows net immigration for the period 2006-2011 of 118K.

Yet referring to the CSO chart
The new PPS numbers issued from 2006-2010 totals 650K.
The figures from 2006-2009 are from CSO, 2010 (69K) is from Ir Times report.

Even if 50% of these people returned home (650 @50%=325) during the period, it would still leave a balancing figure of 200K Irish emigrants over the full period.
It would require 82% of these people to return home in order for Irish emigration to be zero over the period. [I do realise that some may have been returning Irish but this is probably a small amount]

The census figures may have contained good news but I simply cannot see how they can be used to prove that up to 50,000 Iirsh National are not emigrating each year.


I totally agree with you about Seamus Coffey. He seems to be emerging as Ireland’s number one economic and social statistician for the new generation, doing what Garret Fitzgerald and Brendan Walsh have done in the past for my generation. I would like to see him given a column in the Irish Times. We need people who simply analyse statistics in an intelligent way and have no political axe to grind.

In my earlier posts on the census results, I should also have posted Triple AAA congratulations to the CSO for getting the census results published so quickly and for having, even in this preliminary release, published so much useful information. The census in the UK (which, for the moment, includes my own residence north of the border) was held a couple of weeks before the one in Ireland, but there is no sign of any results from it being published yet.

While the exodus is not of biblical proportions it is certainly as high as 50,000 and is continuing unabated. The pain and suffering is being borne largely by people under 35 with people who are entering the work force taking the brunt of it. If you talk to the twenty somethings they will tell you it is a brutal job market and list off the people they know who left Ireland recently.

Another trend that is now becoming evident is the two day week and happy to have it. I do not want to be perceived as being too cynical and hard bitten but a little bit of scepticism is warranted.

It’s fun to think about an alternative history of Ireland suggested by JtO’s reminder of major ex post revision to the statistics … no 1975 recession = no ‘Richie Ruin” = Coalition returned in 1977 = no FF manifesto, no 30% public sector percent pay increases under Charlie Haughey = a very different 1980s. And there would be an existing Ministry of the Public Service as the that coalition had, not one coming back in 35 years later.

Of course there was still Jimmy Tully’s disastrous map but now we’re well off IE topics.

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