Migrants more likely to be in overcrowded accommodation – study

Over half of all migrants were renting in 2016, compared with 13% of Irish-born people

Migrants face even greater challenges in the Irish housing market than Irish-born people, with many migrants concentrated in the private rented sector with a much higher risk of overcrowding and homelessness.

That is according to a report published on Monday by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) which is based on microdata from the 2016 census relating to migrant housing and family issues.

While the data long predates the war in Ukraine and its accompanying refugee crisis, lead author of the report Dr Frances McGinnity said any policy weaknesses shown up by the previous census, such as a shortage of housing, could be expected to be worsened by current events.

Entitled Origin and Integration: Housing and Family among Migrants in the 2016 Irish Census, the ESRI report compared the housing and family situation of people born in Ireland with that of first-generation migrants, examining what this meant for their integration.


In relation to housing the report found:

* More than half (56 per cent) of all migrants were living in private rented housing in 2016, compared with 13 per cent of Irish-born people. Some 75 per cent of Polish migrants – one of the largest migrant groups in Ireland – lived in private rented accommodation.

* Eight per cent of Irish-born individuals lived in overcrowded accommodation in 2016, a relatively low proportion when compared internationally, the report said. In contrast, almost 20 per cent of migrants in Ireland lived in overcrowded accommodation.

* Overcrowding rates were particularly high among some non-EEA (European Economic Area) migrants, including migrants from the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) (37 per cent), Sub-Saharan and Other Africa (39 per cent), South Asia (41 per cent) and East Asia (37 per cent).

The study found migrants who lived in Ireland longer were less likely to be renting or to live in overcrowded accommodation.

Lone parenthood

The census data shows that non-Irish nationals were over-represented among homeless persons in Ireland; non-Irish nationals comprised 11 per cent of the total population, yet non-Irish nationals made up 25 per cent of persons in homelessness.

In relation to the family situation of migrants, greater similarity between migrants and Irish-born was observed, although some key differences emerged between migrant groups.

Households with children that were headed by migrants from eastern Europe and migrants from Asia (south Asia, east Asia, also Mena) were less likely to be lone-parent households than Irish households with children. Of all migrant groups examined, Sub-Saharan- and Other African-headed households were most likely to experience lone parenthood.

The highest rates of mixed unions were among household heads born in the United Kingdom and United States/Oceania; among both groups about 70 per cent of all partnerships were with an Irish-born partner.

For other migrants groups, mixed unions were rare, particularly among east Europeans and Asian groups (south Asians, east Asians, Mena countries). For example, of all Polish household heads with a partner, only 3 per cent have an Irish-born partner.

The ESRI concluded on the evidence that “housing should be a priority area for migrant integration policy” and that housing should be incorporated into the successor to the Migrant Integration Strategy 2017-2020 as a matter of urgency.

Dr McGinnity noted that addressing major current challenges in the Irish housing market would benefit migrants, “as they are disproportionately found in overcrowded accommodation and in homelessness” .

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist