Emigration to fall as economy improves, says ESRI

Think tank predicts 14% drop in number of emigrants in 12 months to April 2014

The ESRI expects 78,000 people to have left the country in the 12 months to April 2014, a 14 per cent drop on the previous year’s figure of 89,000.  Photograph: Frank Miller

The ESRI expects 78,000 people to have left the country in the 12 months to April 2014, a 14 per cent drop on the previous year’s figure of 89,000. Photograph: Frank Miller


The number of people emigrating from Ireland is believed to be falling significantly as employment figures continue to improve, the Economic and Social Research Institute has said.

The institute expects 78,000 people to have left the country in the 12 months to April 2014, a 14 per cent drop on the previous year’s figure of 89,000.

Net migration
Although the ESRI also expects immigration into Ireland to drop to about 52,000 from 55,900 the previous year, the predicted net outflow of 26,000 is still 27 per cent below what it was in 2012-13, and the lowest net migration figure since 2008-09.

“These forecasts of slowing outflows are consistent with the institute’s forecasts for stronger economic growth in 2014 and further increases in employment,” said the head of the ESRI’s economic analysis division, Alan Barrett.

“However, they also show that net outflows will continue because unemployment will still remain high by historic standards in 2014, even if it is falling.”

The country’s unemployment rate, as measured by the Live Register, fell to 12.5 per cent in November.

Between 2007-08 and 2012-13, the number of Irish people moving abroad increased 289 per cent, from 13,100 to 50,900, figures from the Central Statistics Office show. A total of 200,600 Irish people emigrated in the period, while 120,600 returned, bringing the net migration figure for Irish people to 80,000.

Figures obtained by The Irish Times on the number of work permits or visas provided to Irish people to live in the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand also show the numbers of Irish moving abroad may have begun to level off this year.

The new Irish population in these countries is becoming more permanent, however, with a significant rise in the numbers granted longer-term visas, permanent residency or citizenship.

The number of British national insurance numbers issued to Irish people fell 2 per cent to 15,540 in the 12 months to March 2013, following a further 2.4 per cent drop the previous year.

The number of Irish workers granted four-year employer-sponsored 457-visas for Australia has also begun to level out, increasing just 4 per cent in the 12 months to the end of June 2013, compared with a 62 per cent jump between June 2011 and 2012.

Those going to Australia on a working holiday visa for the first time dropped by a significant 26 per cent to 19,117 in the 12 months to the end of June, though the number successfully applying to stay on for a second year increased by 15.2 per cent to 7,300.

The number of Irish gaining Australian citizenship has increased significantly however, indicating that more and more Irish want to put down permanent roots in the country, with 1,796 conferred in the 12 months to June, up 27.5 per cent on the previous year.


As the numbers of working holiday makers travelling to Australia has fallen this year, the popularity of Canada and New Zealand has grown.

The number of temporary workers is continuing to rise as the Canadian government expands the quota of two-year working holiday visas available to Irish people under the International Experience Canada (IEC) programme. The quota for the 2014 round, which is expected to be filled quickly when it opens in early January, will be 10,700, up from 6,350 in 2013 and 5,000 in 2012.

The Irish in Canada are also becoming increasingly permanent, with 890 people granted residency in Canada 2012, an increase of 228 on the previous year and almost triple the 2006 figure. The numbers appear to be continuing to rise, with 479 people gaining residency in the first six months of 2013, up 8.5 per cent on the same period last year. Some 229 people were granted Canadian citizenship in 2012.

A total of 4,959 Irish nationals were approved for temporary work visas in the 12 months to June, up from 3,904 the previous year. The numbers have remained steady for the second half of this year, with 2,264 approved between July and the end of November.


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