IRELAND has one of the highest levels of emigration in the world, with one-in-six Irish-born people now living abroad.
Figures released this week put Ireland at the top of a global 34-country list revealing the level of people living in countries such as Britain, Australia, Canada and the US.
Britain, which was historically home to seven-in-10 Irish emigrants, has been replaced by Canada and Australia as an overseas destination for half of those now leaving Ireland.
Unemployment among emigrants is also higher today than it was seven years ago. Six-in-10 of those who left Ireland in 2008 had a job, today that figure is closer to four-in-10.
Health and education workers, one-in-five, are among those most likely to emigrate, due in part to the Irish state’s hiring freeze from 2009 to 2014.
The property and business service sector also suffered during the recession, according to the international economic organisation OECD.
The latest wave of Irish emigrants are also older, according to its Economic Survey of Ireland which was released this week.
The majority are now in the 25-44 age bracket compared to teenagers and young adults who left in previous decades.
“For more of its history Ireland has been a country of emigration. This changes in the mid-1990’s when the economic boom during the Celtic Tiger years slowed emigration and brought a substantial pick up in immigration,” the survey reports.
It also points to 2005 as the year when there as an increase in the number of workers coming into Ireland, after it became one of the first countries to open its doors to central and Eastern Europe.
Better jobs is seen as the main reason people leave Ireland.
Salary levels among the over 30s are higher on average abroad while Irish wages for those in their 20s are less competitive.
The economic contribution seen by return migration in the 1990s is also no longer a guarantee today due to fierce global competition for skilled workers.
“Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand have been found to be more successful than European countries in retaining migrants,” the report states.
“Existing communites in these countries make it easier for people to integrate and stay abroad.”
Better jobs, higher wages, good healthcare, tax breaks, housing and affordable childcare would help entice Irish people back home, the OECD believes.
According to the survey, people in Ireland are less than satisfied with the quality of healthcare in Ireland than in most other advanced EU countries.
Citing this year’s Irish Government Diaspora Policy Review as a way to engage with Irish people abroad, the survey said there was room for improvement – namely with regards to voting rights and political representation.
“Ireland is one of the few countries in Europe that does not to offer some form of suffrage to citizens who live abroad. Political participation is positively associated with well-being and voting can allow states to build and retain highly productive connections with Diaspora groups.”
Ireland's growing second generation
Ireland’s second generation population is rapidly growing, according to OECD figures.
The number of children born to non-Irish mothers was almost insignificant in 2000 but now one-in-four children born in Ireland has a non-Irish mother.
Half are mothers from the EU, while Asian and African mothers account for four and three per cent.
Foreign nationals living in Ireland now account for one-in-five of the population – following a sharp increase between 2001 and 2011.
They are mainly European.