Net Migration Patterns

The comments on the RIchard Tol thread refer to migration patterns. The graph below is from the December 2011 IMF report and highlight the growth in the net emigration of “native Irish” up to April 2011.

43 replies on “Net Migration Patterns”

An exact reflection of the boom and bust that Ireland has lived through and of the pattern of migration that is observable across the country, a notable feature being the fact that many migrants that came to Ireland from the EU12, and in even greater numbers to the UK, are staying put, as is the case with migrants from outside the EU.

This, in turn, is a reflection of the unthinking and unplanned approach to labour policy, notably worker education and training (which hardly needs any elaboration, given the FAS saga). Either we have too many “native Irish” untrained or too qualified. It was ever thus.

these figures don`t seem right 30,000 people net outflow per year in 2010 and 2011 when on the ground it feels that there is mass emigration going

As John The Optimist would say if he was still around, these figures from the CSO are based on the quarterly national household survey and as the preliminary census for April 2011 has shown, the migration figures were substantially overstated in 2006-2011 though we don’t know if the overstatement happened evenly over each of the five years. So the annual figures from the CSO should be treated with caution.


That’s how it feels to me too. Perhaps we know the same people 🙂

Mind you, 30,000 and climbing is still a big enough number if it’s your son or daughter leaving I guess.

What does 30,000 leaving save the government in dole money every year? 300m or so?

Perhaps its time for the CSO or ESRI to get down and dirty and do a specific emigration headcount in a particular ‘parish’ or electoral area.
Might I suggest the parish of Newport and Ballinahinch in Co Tipperary.
Based on anecdotal evidence the results from these two parishes would if extrapolated contain very very large numbers of emigrants.
The 30,000 seems very low.

We have become a very interesting experiment.
This place should be crawling with foreign social scientists trying to figure out what extreme inflation & deflation does to our tiny little primate brains.

Noticed two Irish presenters on a BBC astronomy show (normally a very English thingy) tonight – the very lovely Liz Bonnin and Darra something or other.
Is the Beeb trying to tell us something ?

Anyway me thinks so many people are sacred sh$£less they are staying in & watching the candle burn out – this time on only one end.

NCB says that the unique population and age structure that has fuelled much of Ireland’s recent prosperity will continue for the next 15 years.
In a new economic report called ’20-20-Vision: Ireland’s demographic dividend’ NCB says Ireland can expect to take in 70,000 new migrants per year for the next five years.

It says economic activity will expand by about 6% per year.
NCB says there will be 30% more people living here in 15 years time, and that by 2020 one fifth of the population will be made up of immigrants.
But a big population means big consumer spending especially on discretionary items such as leisure, travel and entertainment but also on pensions products. NCB also expects house builders to continue to do very well with about 65,000 new houses per year needed for the next ten years. Car showrooms will also benefit with the number of cars in Ireland set to double by 2020.

Odd, isn’t it, that the number of births has remained so high! Latest available figures show 2011Q1 almost 8% ahead of 2010Q1.

It makes no sense for the IMF to make deductions from migration data that the CSO admits in its “Population and Migration Estimates -April 2011” is completely wrong. We are not talking about a rounding error – the 118K immigration figure was measured at 21K. It’s easy to imagine why statistical sampling of migration is difficult (transience/tax avoidance/undecided) but there is nothing to be gained from analysing this dataset.

The birth numbers are very encouraging – and accurate.

The birth numbers are not encouraging.
The country is deindustrialising yet its population is rising.
When did that happen last ?

Its being exported – thats what colonies do………………

Theres a reason why the CSO has not published a comprehensive transport overview since 2008.

Road freight transport stats :
Year 1998 Year 2007 (peak)
tonne Kilometers (millions) : 8,184 18,707
Tonnes carried (thousands) :191,264 299,307
Vehicle kilometers (million) : 1,327 2,332
Average Number of vehicles : 50,033 97,752
Laden Journeys : 13,468 23,646

Year 2010
Tonne kilometers (millions) : 10,924
Tonnes carried (thousands) : 125,865
Vehicles kilometers (million) : 1,457
Average number of vehicles : 84,025
Laden journeys : 11,177

The Irish road construction has been a much bigger bubble then the Irish 19th century railways ever were.
I can only think of the halting of the Ballywilliam – New Ross mainline because of bankruptcy in 1864 (a branch line was later constructed) – when I think of the modern madness.

The irony now is the old railways are the only mechanism to save our market towns.
Why ?
Because the energy density is simply not there to link our towns with cars & trucks.
If are to live withen our means the road network is toast.

Sorry thats not quite coming out right.

Space bar between 8,184 in 1998 & 18,707 in 2007

and so on……..

The Irish economy seems to be settling in to a ‘stagnation equilibrium’ which occured previously for a few years in the mid-50s and mid-80s when emigration eased all sorts of pressures and the ‘comfortable majority’ were, well, comfortable. This equilibrium is only temporary, but it may be sustained for quite a while. Eventually the reality that it is not sustainable indefinitely forces some change. In the late ’50s and the late ’80s it was senior officials (and others) persuading senior politicians to implement a major shift in policy.

This time we have the Troika, but it may not have the desired effect. The Government and its senior officials, of course, will convey the public impression of being compliant with the top-level targets, while retaining discretion in detail – and there will be the usual ducking and diving to try to pull the wool over the eyes of the Troika, but the underlying stance, particularly among the senior officials, is defensive and reactive, rather than pro-active and forward-looking as their predecessors in the late ’50s and late ’80s were. And while Sean Lemass might have had to overcome the ‘forces of reaction’ when implementing major policy changes in the early 60s, and Ray MacSharry had to do something similar in the late 80s, the modern version of these ‘forces of reaction’ is more powerful, influential and deeply-embedded than its predecessors.

The required policy changes will have to come from within, but the prospects are not auspicious. But, one way or another, they will be forced eventually.

@Paul Hunt

It’s not really an equilibrium with another 2 or 3 years of cuts to come . All the easy choices have been made and there’s another 7% or so of GDP to be lopped off the deficit. The borgs will defend their interests as long as they can but I think we’ll see more movement than heretofore.

The “Growth” beginning in the late 80s was not sustainable.
It was obtained by increasing leverage – i.e. taking wealth from the future to spend today.
I was just thinking of Glandore recently because of the tragic events in Union Hall.
I can remember being down in Glandore in the summer of 1990 & being struck by the number of Mercs & BMWs present.
The “wealth” was beginning to hit the top echelons of Irish society that year (minor blip of the first Gulf war followed)
What people don’t get is that the trade defecit financial sectors channeled credit (oil) into former colonies such as Ireland.
We did not have to be so austere in energy use – any austerity came via fiscal means or the money to credit ratio which decreased dramatically ( in the 19th century we were a major exporter of energy to Britain – the energy export back then was food although we were provided with a certain amount of coal to transport the stuff to market by the late 19th century)
The financial sector (London etc) needs to push us into energy surplus again because there is not enough energy to go round.
And Financial cities don’t do surpluses – they cannot , they could not exist without always having huge money inputs.

If the present situation continues the roads built in the last 20 or so years are completly unsustainable.
Modes of transport with higher Labour inputs but lower energy inputs begin to seem competitive again.

Those stats are pretty inadequate. We should have
age, sex, education, profession, skill, townland, to give a full demographic profile. Expect to see large percentages of young, highly skilled, highly educated, entrepreneurs bleeding from the country. Also there appears to be aprox 50% increase of 15,000 to the figures between 2010 and 2011; if the pattern continues, as I would expect, end 2012 should bump the figure up to 45-50000…..we’re turning into the Florida of Europe with the silver heads, but without the weather.

@wow ‘native Irish’ would include anyone with O or Mc or Mac at the beginning of their family name, though not exclusively when you consider family names such as Brennan or Reilly etecetera, at al, the most frequent family name in Ireland is O’Brien – from Brian Boru whose 1000 year anniversary is upon us – he wasn’t happy about a growing change in the core social constitution of this old island/ (‘sean oilean’) and decided to organise and resist, with conviction

@ colm

“Also there appears to be aprox 50% increase of 15,000 to the figures between 2010 and 2011; if the pattern continues, as I would expect, end 2012 should bump the figure up to 45-50000…..”

Jeeze dude, at that rate I’d expect 500k to be leaving the country by early 2015 (and a couple of million per year by the end of the decade…). Then you can dress up as Joan Burton, though wearing 2010 clothes obviously…..

It’s interesting how disappointed some folk are at the lower-than-expected figures (even though this point has long been discussed on the site). What sulking because emigration isn’t as bad as they want.
The same trend was evident on Tol’s departure. How satisfied some commenters were because it validated their nihilistic view – the worse things get, the better they feel. Charming.

How awful to discover that despite the battering the country has taken, the most significant observable trend is that society has not broken down and social cohesion is still the predominant characteristic. (of course the underclass persists, but the middle class was happy to let them rot during the boom too).

How crushed some of you would be to see the thriving school, packed churches and vibrant GAA of our locality, even as we wince to see another shop close.

Yes there is emigration, but it varies widely from the more benign end of the scale – twenty somethings off on international adventures from which they intend to return tanned and experienced, to the more emotional story of fathers leaving families behind them to pay the mortgage.

People do what they have to do to survive, but it’s not the end of the world, and most certainly not the end of Ireland. Sorry to disappoint.

@ colm

At Bond, being a straight dude in my personal life and my math life, I’m not into dressing up. It may turn you on, but both I, wife and four kids….nope….wonder why it preys on your mind though.

Your first part analysis there intrigues me though. It shows your limited knowledge of maths, dude 🙂

lim f(x)=L


The numbers above are governed by mathematical qualifiers such as how long we remain within the euro, the question of whether we get a second bailout, the question of whether we sign up to ESM, the breakup of the euro, the erosion of EFSF; how long dudes like you can pull the wool over the mathematical eyes of people.

Now, if I was Greenspan, I could spin you out a long formula, an algorithm using matrices based on allocating variables and matrices to the above and doing a little bit of differential maths to show the figures I have in the above are correct, but why bother for a “?” post such as yours.

Think of limits dude, next time you try a little math. Real math not pseudo bondholder, or Troika math that doesn’t work 🙂

As for bailiff Burton, or the rest of our governing sheriffs and bailiffs, please don’t compare me to any of them. And Varadkar I heard on the radio, a government minister, who hasn’t even read the leaked proposals for fiscal harmonisation and opting in for ESM we’ve debated in a post here, could someone wake him out, and give him a copy. So he won’t go on radio and make fool statements like we cant debate the question if we don’t know what the question is.

Keep the nasty posts to yourself, dude!


Looks like you won’t be looking for those missing lookout binoculars on the titanic, then? These reports of floating icebergs like EFSF downgrades, Italy/Spain/Greece/Ireland mathematical impossibilities of unsustainable debt levels with austerity band aids, all working well for you? Many on board the titanic refused to believe it was sinking as well.

I hate to be a party pooper, so I say to you, enjoy it while you can.


I’m not enjoying it all, but survival is just that – surviving. It’ll do for now.

The question is: why do some exult in the negative and seem so disconcerted when the evidence refuses to support their dystopian world view?

Not in the figures above, many of the middle class were entrepreneurs who started up businesses and got caught up in the property boom. These businesses are being snuffed out by the day or are being held onto by the finger nails. For them negative equity, mounting pressures against sales are taking a toll. Some stats in that regard would be welcome as well.

@ Sarah,

The question is: why do some exult in the negative and seem so disconcerted when the evidence refuses to support their dystopian world view?

Nope, the real question is why you ask that question. May I suggest that question is misinformed, a negative put down of critical thinking that is labeled by you as ‘dystopian’.

Its also misinformed by mathematically dangerous logic based on a logical principle of induction that is also false. This leads you to induce because you see dancing on cross roads, the whole of Ireland is dancing! Not so.

Critical thinkers, on the other hand, are foremost guided by the truth. They use scientifically based, empirical analysis built to examine uncontaminated evidence not infected by their own prejudice.

I’ve seen good efforts on this blog to reach for unbiased, unvarnished truth. What should be exulted in is, the truth.
We need to know if the trains we are asked to travel in are going to concentration camps, or taking us elsewhere; I don’t regard it as dystopian if someone alerts me to the fact a train is heading in a different direction to the one I thought.

With all those young players leaving the country, might be worthwhile for the GAA to commission a survey on the effects of emigration patterns on teams across the country.
Perhaps the Irish titanic has yet to tilt more into the water for some to get the message 😉

Yes, you’re right. I should stick to your version of the truth.

“As I would expect, end 2012 should bump the figure up to 45-50000…..we’re turning into the Florida of Europe with the silver heads, but without the weather.”

Oh hang on, that’s not a truth – that’s a prediction.

@Sarah Carey

(of course the underclass persists, but the middle class was happy to let them rot during the boom too).

In fairness to Cowan he made huge efforts as minister for finance to buy everyone off. Even the underclass.
The large % increases in Social welfare and allowances.
The recent reports into the disadvantaged schools showing great results from the extra resources given. CE schemes that benefited lots of disadvantaged areas.
The current cuts which went for many of the above low hanging fruit show that the speed of underclass rot increases disproportionately in times of need. The underclass are poor lobbyists and they don’t vote.

As for “packed churches”. Really?
Have you noticed increased church attendance?
You are not just judging based on Christmas are you?
Is there evidence to support that?
I would be genuinely surprised.

@ Colm

the Joan Burton comment was referring to her “500k will emmigrate” comment from a couple of years ago. You jumped a little too quickly to the cross dressing suggestion there…


Re “Oh hang on, that’s not a truth – that’s a prediction.”

That’s right, Sarah.

Now, on the basis of your statement there, I’m stating a falsehood, I’m misinformed; at worst, I’m a liar!

Now lets examine what I said: ” end 2012 should bump the figure up to 45-50000 ”

Is the word, ‘should’, a statement of an objective fact ? So, we’re not talking about truth, are we, we are talking about mathematical probability and the rules of integration and differentiation in maths to deal withs statistical probability.
Thats all we can do for now.

When the titanic sinks or when we look at the stats this time next year, we can then talk about about whether our ‘predictions’ were true? Good empirical tools have the best probability of determining results that will later be proven to be true 😉


Cowan was a real tragedy. As you say, improvements in educational standards were achieved in some areas; but when you put on the blindfolds given to you by the likes of bankers, Honahan, Corrigan, Cardiff and Bond above, plus you allow developer cartels and big business to put on a nose rings for you…..

@ Bond,

the Joan Burton comment was referring to her “500k will emmigrate” comment from a couple of years ago. You jumped a little too quickly to the cross dressing suggestion there…

It was a nasty troll post open to the interpretation I gave it.
Generally, your posts are of high quality with good information, but I accept the qualification you give it there and hope you return to your usual high standards 🙂

We’ve discussed the Joan Burton comment numerous times on here in the past. JTO used to love quoting its ridiculousness before his self-imposed exile…

Net migration figures are interesting, but so are the gross flows. While 2010 and 2011 might look similar on the graph above (bar a change in the composition towards more native Irish emigrants) gross emigration was around 10k higher in 2011. Immigration was also around 10k higher – which was surprising when the figuers were released – so that the net figure stayed the same.


It’s true social welfare payments practically ballooned during the noughties. What I observed though was the popularity of the model which (IMHO) worked as follows:

– Low income tax + increase social welfare
– A lazy/non-existent approach to providing/reforming public services (other than increasing pay of course).
– Let people pay privately for their public services which they feel good about, since they’ve money in their own pocket and can choose how to spend it, without feeling the obligation to subsidise public services.
So, e.g. pay a “voluntary contribution” towards my nice school in my nice area to provide nice things for the nice pupils, and to hell with the poor school in the ghetto which can’t rely on parents to make up the difference.

Or – pre-school.

High quality state provided pre-school is one of the most important interventions the state can make to improve equality. Forget 3rd level fees – pump money into nurseries in disadvantaged areas and level the playing field at 2 years not 18 years.
Instead the simple solution offered was to increase child benefit and lower taxes for middle class thus allowing people to solve their childcare problems under the name “choice”

The middle classes were happy with this choice, while children in disadvantaged areas with bad parents saw no improvement in their opportunities. (There were some community care creches set up under the Dept of Equality and I recall when the government tried to reduce their grant aid and make direct payments to users even though the professional advice was that giving cash to bad parents was a bad idea – service provision over cash payments is a safer way of channelling help to children who need it).

Or say, private hospitals on public sites, or NTPS. Again, use the private sector to solve a problem instead of reforming the public sector.

These were quick fix solutions but the big problem is that once the hard cash disappears what are you left with? Still no childcare for the poor, the CB has to be cut, and the middle class, while struggling, is still winning. Oh, and those waiting lists in the public system, especially for things like orthopaedics, just get longer because no one had to bother figuring out how to make the system more efficient. As long as a critical mass of people can still afford private health insurance, the pressure is off. (Note: there were some successes in public health – I don’t subscribe to the view that it’s all broken).

In that respect, a worse is better philosophy, might actually be correct. Until a significant portion of people can’t afford to pay privately for public services, then there will be little or no pressure to fundamentally change the system.

On churches.

Well, I go to mass. I won’t get into the why’s and wheretofore’s here, but the place is buzzing. Church is full, and our parish priest is great for coming up with some sort of hook every month (we’ve had a protestant style harvest thanksgiving, a new priest’s first mass, even, a 12 hour prayer session complete with visitation from the Bishop and monthly masses for the 1st communion cohort).

The result? Well, on a regular Saturday I can safely arrive at 5 to and get my usual seat. On the special Saturdays, you’ve to get there in buckets of time. At the “first mass” mass we got the last seat at 6.30 (for 7).

Partly it’s the success of the McDonald’s strategy (get the kids and the parents will follow) but what has really surprised me, is how happy and enthusiastic the parents are. Church going is a well recognised barometer for social and mental well being. It makes sense that in times of social stress, it would become more popular. Also, they may be benefiting from less competition. If people can’t afford weekend activities, they are available for mass.

My husband usually declines the opportunity and I take the children. But last week I was indisposed so he went along and came back in great form with all the news.
The church’s dirty secret: it’s a social thing.

And this is the larger point I was making earlier.

If you read the interweb, listen to the radio and read the papers, you’d think we were a society on the verge of collapse. Turn it off (as many people I know do) and what is the reality? Despite the pressure, individuals are suffering, but society is not breaking down. Ireland has a future.

@Sarah Carey,

Are you JtO in disguise?

Nevertheless, you make valid points. And I’m sure the black economy is booming.

My only concern is that so much effort is being put into survival and in providing the glue that keeps a society together that there is no energy left to change the things that need to be changed to enhance recovery and that the economy and society will wallow in a form of stagnation or statis broadly acceptable to the ‘comfortable majority’.

I see too many parallels with the mid 50s and the mid ’80s. And I see no evidence of the resolve and dynamism in senior official circles to convince governing politicians of the need for some shifts in policy to boost recovery that were instrumental at the end of the ’50s and the ’80s. Relatively minor changes are needed in a variety of sectors and areas, but, cumulatively, they would generate some forward momentum. But it would involve taking on some of the ‘forces of resistance’. And that’s the hard bit. It’s easier to wallow and, Micawberishly, wait for something to turn up.

The black economy is booming because the total domestic money supply is shrinking and yet taxes are rising on this smaller amount.
You can only raise taxes on a increasing money supply but not on a declining one for very long before implosion – however I mean money supply , I don’t want to see goverment fiat backing bank credit in this economy ever again.

The corruption lies at the very top of our establishment in the main , not at the bottom – they are merely beginning to enter simple survival mode activities.
The state has left them anyway – what loyality have they to a very strange market state experiment. ?

Something similar happened in this bog after the Napoleonic wars and its subsequent depression.
The rents were raised on a declining money supply so that the landlords could continue whoring in Venice, Church of Ireland maintained their land tithes so that they could continue to live the life they had grown accustomed & the Catholic church wanted their dews.
The fundamentals of this bog never changes


I’m just one of the few members of the commentariat who does *not* live or work daily in Dublin.

Honestly, out here in the stix, it’s a different world.

Journalists should stay away from other journalists if they want to know what’s really going on. Otherwise you think the craw thumping whinge fest that dominates media is all there is.

There *is* more.

Come up and see us sometime…

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