Majority of Irish emigrants do not expect to come back to Ireland

Survey results ‘amount to a vote of no confidence’ in a future in Ireland

Only 40 per cent of emigrants expect to return to Ireland at some stage and just 21 per cent of those who had emigrated expect to return within three years, a survey has found.  Photograph: Alan Betson

Only 40 per cent of emigrants expect to return to Ireland at some stage and just 21 per cent of those who had emigrated expect to return within three years, a survey has found. Photograph: Alan Betson

Thu, Apr 11, 2013, 06:00

Only 40 per cent of the present generation of Irish emigrants intend to return to Ireland, according to new research.

The feelings of new Irish emigrants amounts to a “vote of no confidence to live and work and make your future in Ireland”, a conference entitled Irish Migration Today and Yesterday , held in Trinity College Dublin was told.

The Emigrate Project, based in UCC, is conducting a survey among 2,200 Irish households to determine where the hot spots for emigration are,

The centre has so far received more than 700 responses from emigrants who grew up in the households surveyed.

Dr Piaras Mac Éinrí, an expert on migration at UCC, said that although the survey was only half completed, some significant trends had emerged.

Only 40 per cent expected to return to Ireland at some stage and just 21 per cent of those who had emigrated expect to return within three years.

In addition, 60 per cent of those who emigrated were already in employment, but still felt their future did not lie in Ireland. “It has to do with a very bleak estimate of the prospect of advancements. They may have jobs, but they don’t think they have great prospects,” he said.

ESRI economist Prof John FitzGerald said Irish people tended to think of emigration as a disaster, but it had been a success story.

One-third of all emigrants who came back to Ireland, according to one census, had third-level education and they brought skills with them from abroad. They enjoyed a 7 per cent wage premium like-for-like with their Irish counterparts who never went abroad.

He said the recession could be looked at as a “great training programme” and beneficial to the Irish economy as long as the emigrants came back at some stage.