Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Emigration is back - maybe?

Slí Eile: Before anyone gets carried away with claims that newcomers are heading home and families are abandoning their homes and schools …latest published CSO data (Population and Migration Estimates) confirm that:

* inward migration is down but is still running at twice the annual average of what it was in the late-1980s (57,000 in the 12 months to April 2009)

* emigration is picking up and this is clearly impacting on ‘EU12’ (including Polish workers affected by the building slump)

* there were more children under the age of 15 entering the State than leaving up to last April (table 5)

* the collapse in employment and the severity of the recession in Ireland will, undoubtedly, give rise to some net outward migration. This process may even accelerate in the course of 2010 as unemployment peaks, here, and labour market conditions improve abroad. However, there are major caveats:

* family migration is much slower to respond which explains the absence of any significant flows for persons under 15 (as distinct from those in their 20s and 30s)

* conditions, today, are very different to those in mid-1980s Ireland (welfare for families has improved in relative terms even if these are now under threat)....

* employment conditions across Europe are precarious - countries like Poland has an unemployment rate of 8% and rising in Q1 of this year (and higher still in the Baltic Republics) – check out Table 25 of today's CSO Quarterly National Household Survey.

Also, the following profile of migration in Ireland is of interest - click here.

As we peer into the future there is much uncertainty (NAMA long-term values and demographics please note) about what will happen here, in the UK, across the EU27 and elsewhere. Some period of prolonged and slow recovery, here, allied to ‘jobless growth’ is one possible outcome. The relationships, drivers and ‘push and pull’ factors are not as they were in the past and it would be foolish to extrapolate too much from the past. Migration used to be the joker in the demography pack. Births and fertility have now joined migration as the great unknown. Some commentators are predicting a fall in births and in the birth rate as the recession kicks in. The latest available data indicate that births continue to run at a very high level – the highest since the late 19th Century with a total period fertility rate of close to 2.1 in 2008 (replacement level).

The implications for population growth and continuing demand for service provision are ominous. There is no comfort for those of the view that the recession will solve the excess demand for social housing, education and a decent health service. A Malthusian market response is not on the cards any time soon. Our economy and society is more closely enmeshed in the global situation than ever.

1 comment:

James Wickham said...

One of the nastiest aspects of Ireland's migration policy has been the assumption that the moment there was the slightest downturn, migrants would just disappear. Of course this hasn't happened, as Martin Ruhs' piece makes clear. People may be interested in our account of the experience of Polish migrants in Sociological Review Online March 2009: