Most immigrants doing better than locals but Africans doing worse - ESRI

Well-educated western Europeans settling well in Ireland, but African nationals fare poorly

Frances McGinnity, lead author of the ESRI report: “Immigrants from Europe and North America are performing very well in the Irish labour market. However, more concerning findings emerge for other groups, including African nationals.”  Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Frances McGinnity, lead author of the ESRI report: “Immigrants from Europe and North America are performing very well in the Irish labour market. However, more concerning findings emerge for other groups, including African nationals.” Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Most immigrants in recent years are doing better in terms of jobs and education than locals, although people from Africa appear significantly disadvantaged, according to research published on Wednesday.

The report from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) examines how well migrants have settled in the Republic and reveals a wide disparity based on where people were born.

All told, 17 per cent of people currently living in the Republic were born in another country, with 8,000 immigrants becoming Irish citizens last year alone.

The ESRI report suggests that 4 per cent of western European nationals living in Ireland, excluding people from the UK, were unemployed last year compared with 7 per cent of Irish nationals and 16 per cent of people from Africa.

Employment rates were also higher for non-Irish nationals than Irish nationals, with 70 per cent of the former being employed compared with 66 per cent of the latter. Employment rates for African nationals were considerably lower on 45 per cent.

All told, 37 per cent of Irish people of working age had a third-level education last year, with the percentage higher across almost all non-Irish groups. Western European nationals were the most likely to have third-level education, on 74 per cent, while eastern European nationals were least likely, on 35 per cent.

Lower reading scores

In English reading, 15-year-old immigrants from non-English-speaking backgrounds had lower reading scores than their Irish peers, but there was no difference between Irish and non-Irish 15-year-olds in either science or mathematics.

The ESRI report also says that in 2016, 23 per cent of non-Irish nationals were living below the income poverty line compared to just under 16 per cent of Irish nationals, while consistent poverty rates were 13 per cent for non-Irish nationals and just 8 per cent for Irish nationals, with the rate for non-EU nationals climbing to 29 per cent.

Each monitoring report the ESRI publishes focuses on a specific issue, with the latest looking at Muslims in Ireland and suggesting that population has climbed from less than 20,000 in 2002 to more than 62,000 in 2016.

Just under 30 per cent of Muslims were born in Ireland and, although Muslims are highly educated, they are more likely to be unemployed. They are disproportionately young and urban-based, and are twice as likely as the entire population to be students.

‘Educational attainment’

“With both high rates of employment and educational attainment, immigrants from Europe and North America are performing very well in the Irish labour market. However, more concerning findings emerge for other groups, including African nationals,” said the lead author of the report, Dr Frances McGinnity.

“In working to support integration and diversity, across the public, private and voluntary sectors, access to detailed information in order to inform and guide our work is vital,” said Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration David Stanton.

“Understanding and using this evidence will help us to design and target effective interventions to support integration and remove barriers,” he added.