“No longer shall our children, like our cattle, be brought up for export” then-President of the Executive Council, Eamon de Valera in the Dail in 1934
It is a bittersweet coincidence that today, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) publishes two reports – one is the population estimate for the State at April 2012 which claims that 87,100 people emigrated in the year to April, and the other is the livestock slaughterings report for August 2012. It seems that once again, our children are in fact being raised like livestock for export. The population of the State in April 2012 is estimated to have been 4,585,400 an increase of 10,500 over the previous year. The 10,500 increase comprises births of 74,000, deaths of 29,200, emigration of 87,100 and immigration of 52,700. Emigration is estimated to have increased from 80,600 the previous year and is now at the highest absolute level since at least 1987 and just below the rate per 1,000 population that emigrated in 1989. Last year’s emigration estimate means that an average of 240 people emigrated for each of the 365 days.
The low annual increase will have an impact on residential property demand. If we simply take the 10,500 increase and apply the average of 2.7 persons per household, we need 4,000 homes for the increased population. Of course our households are also fragmenting at a rate which suggests we need 17,000 new homes each year just to accommodate smaller household sizes. And there is also obsolescence of existing property which isn’t really measured in Ireland. Back in 2010, the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis figured we had an overhang of vacant property of over 100,000 units, so nationally we continue to have an overhang.
Ireland is unique on the planet for seeing its population today below the level in the 1840s. Yes we had a famine which saw 2.5m die or emigrate, yes we were under permanent occupation by our hostile neighbour which partly resulted in the Industrial Revolution bypassing the country, but even after liberation in the 1920s it was still 50 years before the decline in population really started to reverse. We may have missed the Industrial Revolution, but with the aid of foreign direct investment, we leapfrogged to the Information Age. We have a peaceful country with no military enemies, untouched by natural disasters with an abundance of natural resources to sustain ourselves, yet we have again returned to mass emigration on a scale seen in the 1950s and 1980s.
This is a man-made disaster.
[The table at the top of this blogpost extracts information in today’s CSO publication and calculates annual population, birth, death and emigration rates per 1,000. The second table was produced on here and originally published in August 2011]