Ireland’s population growing in size and age over the last decade - CSO

Consumer goods and services also 43.8 per cent higher than the EU average in Ireland

Ireland’s population has increased by 10 per cent in the last decade, according to a report released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). According to the report’s author, the country’s population growth is among the fastest in the EU.

“The report shows how Ireland’s population has grown at the third fastest rate in the European Union in the last 10 years, up by 10.3 per cent compared to an EU27 average of 1.4 per cent,” said Aideen Sheehan. “It also shows that the proportion of the population aged 65 years or over increased from 12 per cent in 2012 to 15.1 per cent in 2022.”

Other notable trends in the report, entitled Measuring Ireland’s Progress 2021, show that Ireland had the highest price levels for consumer goods and services in the EU in 2021 and was 43.8 per cent above the EU average. Elsewhere, the country had the second highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the EU at 11.6 tonnes.

Despite the high emissions, Ireland had the fifth lowest ratio of passenger cars at 456 per 1,000 people in 2021. This was also below the EU average of 567.


While Ireland’s population is growing in number, it has also grown older over the last decade, the CSO report says. An increase in the proportion of Ireland’s population aged 45 or over – 34.9 to 40.2 per cent between 2012 and 2022 – was mirrored by a decrease in the proportion aged under 45. That figure dropped from 65 per cent to 59.8.

In 2020, Ireland had the highest male life expectancy in the EU of 80.8 years. The female life expectancy at the same stage, 84.4 years, was 1.2 years above the EU average. “Healthy life expectancy (the number of years a person can expect to live in a healthy state) for males at birth in Ireland in 2020 was 65.3 years, the fifth highest rate in the EU and 1.8 years higher than the EU average,” said Sheehan. “Healthy life expectancy at birth for females in Ireland was 67.1 years in 2020, also the fifth highest rate in the EU and 2.6 years above the EU average.”

Ireland’s fertility rate of 1.8 in 2021 was the joint highest in the EU, alongside France, Czechia and Romania. The report added, however, that all countries in the EU were below the theoretical replacement fertility rate of 2.1. This value represents the average number of children needed for a parent to reproduce themselves by bearing a child who survives to childbearing age.

The country’s divorce rate was the second lowest in the EU at 0.6 divorces per 1,000 people and it was also below the EU average of 1.6 divorces per 1,000.

Elsewhere, the number of new dwellings completed in Ireland between 2012-2022 rose by 508 per cent from 4,911 to 29,851. Over the decade, the number of new apartments completed rose by 1,955 per cent, scheme houses by 1,473 per cent and single houses by 58 per cent.

In education, Ireland had the highest rate of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates in the EU in 2020. Its primary school student to teacher ratio of 15.0 in 2020 was above the EU average of 13.6.

Nathan Johns

Nathan Johns

Nathan Johns is an Irish Times journalist