From the perspective of the host country, immigration is typically driven by two things: geographical proximity – meaning the closer you are to the source, the more likely you are to receive immigrants; or differences in living standards. Despite the high cost of living in the Republic, it is mid-table in Europe in terms of wages, making it an attractive location for migrants.
But neither of these textbook explanations of immigration flows adequately explains what has been happening in Europe over the last decade, nor the latest surge in immigration into the Republic.
Now we can add Ukraine to that list. Ukrainians comprised the single largest component – 41 per cent – of the 141,600 immigrants that came to this State between April 2022 and April 2023 this year.
The CSO figures show population growth of 97,600 was the strongest since 2008 even as the natural increase (the excess of births over deaths) has steadily declined from a peak of 48,800 in 2010 to 20,000 in 2023 (a 59 per cent decline).
“This is due to a steady and ongoing decline in births and, on the contrary, an opposite increase in the annual number of deaths,” John McCartney, director and head of research at BNP Paribas Real Estate, said.
As a result, four-fifths of the population growth recorded in the year to April 2023 was due to migration, he said, noting 141,600 immigrants came to Ireland in the 12 months to April, with 64,000 emigrants leaving. This resulted in net migration of 77,600.
An analysis of PPSN (Personal Public Service Number) allocations suggests the inflow was heavily influenced by the arrival of Ukrainian nationals, he said.
Between April 14th, 2022 and April 13th this year, the cumulative number of PPSN allocations to Ukrainian nationals rose by 58,326 – accounting for 41 per cent of the year’s gross inward migration, he said.