Ireland has highest net emigration level in Europe

35,000 more people left Ireland than arrived here in 2012, Eurostat figures show

Ireland has gone from having the highest net immigration levels in Europe to the highest net emigration levels in just six years.

The country has overtaken Lithuania and Kosovo to top Eurostat's list of European countries with the highest net outward migration in 2012.

The European Commission's statistics office figures show 35,000 more people left Ireland than arrived last year. This amounts to a net migration of -7.6 people per 1,000, compared with -7.1 in Lithuania, -5.8 in Latvia, -5.7 in Estonia, -4.0 in Greece, -3.6 in Portugal, and -3.5 in Spain.

In contrast, Ireland had the highest net inward migration level in Europe at the height of the boom in 2006, at 22.2 per 1,000 people.


Luxembourg had the greatest net immigration in 2012, at 18.9 per 1,000 people, followed by Norway at 9.4, Switzerland at 8.3, Malta at 7.4 and Italy at 6.2. Liechtenstein, Sweden, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Finland, Denmark and the UK also saw more immigrants arriving than emigrants leaving in the 12-month period.

Despite high levels of emigration from Ireland, the population continued to grow in 2012, the Eurostat figures also show. Ireland had the highest birth rate and the lowest death rate in the European Union, resulting in the highest natural population growth.

Some 72,200 live births were recorded in Ireland in the period, compared to just 28,800 deaths. This resulted in a natural growth of 43,400, which outweighed the 35,000 lost by net outward migration.

The population of Ireland overall grew by 8,400 in the year to 4.591 million.

The EU gained 882,200 people through migration in 2012, while the population overall rose by 1.1 million to 505.7 million. A total of 5.2 million babies were born in the 28 EU countries in the year, while five million deaths were registered.

The population increased in 17 member states, led by Luxembourg, Malta, Sweden and the UK, and fell in 11 states, including Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Bulgaria.

Ciara Kenny

Ciara Kenny

Ciara Kenny, founding editor of Irish Times Abroad, a section for Irish-connected people around the world, is Editor of the Irish Times Magazine