Dublin population set to fall for first time since Famine


THE POPULATION of Dublin will fall for the first time since the period shortly after the Famine if immigrants stop coming to Ireland, the latest projections from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) indicate.

The CSO Regional Population Projections for 2011-2026 predict the population of Dublin will fall by 100,000 if there is zero net immigration, that is if immigrants stop arriving or if there is equal balance between emigration and immigration.

While population growth in all regions will be slower under this scenario, Dublin is the only place where population will actually decline. This, the CSO says, is because recent population trends, taken from the last two censuses, have shown a move away from the capital, which will be exacerbated if Ireland is no longer seen as an attractive place in which to live.

The population nationally has increased steadily since the Famine, with just two or three dips over more than 150 years. However, the population of Dublin has never dipped since 1861.

Recent population trends show that while the growth in Dublin, city and county, will either be small over the 15 year period from 2011 to 2026 or fall if immigration does not continue, the growth in the counties surrounding Dublin will be high.

Even if immigration does not stop, population growth in Dublin is predicted to be just 0.7 per cent annually over the period, while the region of highest growth will be in the mid-east commuter counties of Kildare Meath and Wicklow where the population is predicted to grow by 2.8 per cent annually.

The midlands and the south-east are also to experience higher than average population growth over the 15 year period. The projected annual average increase in population to 2026 is 1.5 per cent per year. The midland counties of Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath will collectively grow by 2.3 per cent per year, while the southeast counties of Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford will increase by 1.8 per cent annually.

Western and Border counties are projected to have a slightly higher than average annual growth at 1.6 per cent. south-western and mid-western counties are predicted to have a below average annual increase at 1.2 per cent year per year, but no region except Dublin is likely to have a population growth of less than 1 per cent according to the CSO.

However, the CSO has also advanced a scenario of growth if population trends reverted to their “traditional” pattern.

The recent trend from the last two censuses show the population moving away from Dublin to the surrounding counties. However, the traditional pattern, pre-1996, was for movement from rural counties to Dublin.

If, perhaps because of lowering house prices in the capital, the traditional pattern re-emerges population growth in Dublin would be 1.7 per cent annually, the mid-east counties would still be high at 2.3 per cent and the other regions would vary between 1.1 and 1.5 per cent growth per year.