Irish Remedy for Hard Times: Leaving

The Wall Street Journal carries an extensive article on Irish emigration.


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. 

CSO Population and Migration Estimates

Also from the CSO today, estimates of population and migration for the year ending in April 2010. The headline figure that will attract the most attention is net outward migration of 34.5 thousand, the largest figure since 1989.