Saturday, 17 March 2012

Emigration a 'lifestyle choice'?

Tom Healy: Today's 'feel good' story in the Irish Times ran as 'Emigrants leaving by choice'. Nice to know that some people still have choices. Politicians seem to believe there is much less choice than before. How much migration is really taking place and who is emigrating - and even still immigrating to the State? There is much less hard data on this than many assume. The CSO estimate an annual gross outward migration of 76,000 in the year ending 2011 - many are young and single. 50% of respondents to the Ipsos MRBI poll reported in today's IT felt it was their 'choice' to emigrate when asked 'Did you feel forced to emigrate or was it your choice'. 42% said the left Ireland for 'a change of experience'. Writer Stephen Collins says: 'The findings appear to back the contention of Minister for Finance Michael Noonan that emigration is a lifestyle choice for many who have left the country in recent times'. While one does not wish to take from yet another feel good story building on all the other good news recently a few questions are in order -
how is it that gross outward migration - most of which is 'by choice' was estimated to be running at 76K per annum in 2011 and 36K per annum in 2006?
If 59% of migrants left by 'choice' what about the other 59%? (a serious statistical question in any opinion survey?)
would it be possible to actually report the questionnaire and precise questions?
it should not be thought that because most emigrants were in employment prior to emigrating that the nature, hours and reliability of employment was anything but inadequate.
how was the sample of 300 persons chosen - the detail given is scanty and one wonders about possible bias.

all of this not to question necessarily the reliability of the results. Just caution is needed. Have a great St Patricks weekend commemorating an immigrant who was forced here in the first place - well he chose to come back a second time.


Anonymous said...

If 59% of migrants left by 'choice' what about the other 59%?

Did you mean the other 41%?

Or have I missed some statso in-joke?

Tom Healy said...

@anonymous - if you ask folks whether they agree with proposition X and you get a 59% yes and then run the question again are they in agreement with proposition Y which, on the face of it, seems to be completely exclusive of X you might actually get 59% yes to Y !! The serious point is that terms like 'choice' and 'forced' are loaded and multi-meaning terms. If twice as many 'chose' to emigrate in 2011 as in 2006 how much of this choice was determined by economic constraints -hardly a forced choice but a constrained one nonetheless. problem is that such issues need to be teased out, unpacked, analysed and probed against a larger canvas of facts ... media jump to conclusion is misleading leaving people with the simplistic view that recent emigration has been about choice, opportunity etc etc. soothing for those staying behind ..

Martin O'Dea said...

I think this is just one act in a narrative that is pretty smothering in its prevalence. It has many players including a complicit media in the self-serving body politic. I think its general tenet is things could be worse and we are not that badly off - we must continue to do what we are doing - both because we committed to it in error and yet, funnily, sometimes, it is also the right thing to do and - it will eventually be alright.

This story has 3 temporal purposes - it is to say that things are really ok now, the future will be grand and the past wasn't that bad. Well there was a massive mistake made by FF and/or the Europeans what forced us to do it. That's the story and if you question it - well you should just go and commit suicide again. In the midst of that what of poeple worried baout losing their jobs with 200k house debt, what of those who are further down that road. What of a kid who cannot not get an intelligent permanent insulin pump that another would have two years ago; special needs kids? what of kids who have been educated, who are ready to return on the greatest investment any country can make - who after outlays in the tens of thousands cannot be offered the option to stay at home and contribute to their own economy. What of special needs children not having their needs met. What of €100 property taxes on people, who cannot afford the very basics of economic dignity and freedom, as is, to raise €120 million on the eve of paying €3.1 billion to an Anglo debt.

Who among this body politic has gone to jail, or gone to court, no scratch that when is the last time an Irish minister was forced to resign, and not for petty point scoring.
Without the hardest possible look at ourselves, the design of our societal constructs, the deference that rings through our society, our class system, our collective economic prostitution, our outdated non-ideological competitive political party base, our acceptance of poor services, abuses of power, our hypocritical treatment of global citizens resident here, and the seemingly never ending acceptance of exporting our children it really does feel as though we are like a city that after feeling an early tremor we plow on building cheap inflexible high rise death traps in the face of a coming earthquake

Isn't there also possibly the unspoken benefit that those who are most likely to not stand for this - the youth - are those on the ships and planes somehow taking calls (collect) from people marketing their exits - - 'look at Dame Street what they might have done to the image of an open fine Ireland - troublemakers - let them go'.

Unbelievable comment on Marian Finnucane this morning - I think from Michael Sommers - essentially pointing to the fact that for many Europeans the continuous expression of being open for business and coming through, rounding corners etc etc they are a little confused when talk of defaulting in any shape is mentioned - aren't we fine?

Anonymous said...

I think it would similarly be fair to claim that a large majority of those curently living in refugee camps surrounding Syria also 'chose' to leave...

Martin O'Dea said...

In as much as their conscious minds dictated left then right and then left again, yes.
I met a guy today who lost his job, who's wife was in a precarious job (IFSC) and who (a generally upbeat, confident, capable guy) sounded exhausted from worry and trying to get by. Father to 3 young kids - he was a stay at home dad as well as trying to supplement income. Was telling me he and his wife and kids were considering Germany.
I mentioned the study above and asked if was asked was he forced to leave how would he reply - he said he would probably answer no.
He also said if he had been asked if this whole crash bailout etc had not occurred would he be leaving - the answer would be - no
He mentioned guy who he knew that committed suicide recently; and, also made clear to me how much he appreciated the sentiment of the survey, the article and the ministers comments!!

Martin O'Dea said...

You know what Anonymous, I apologise. To people who feel that the bank guarantee has to be honoured then my 2 posts above would seem over the top, unhelpful, dramatic, etc.
However, if you do not think that these debts should have been or should be honoured then they are absolutely justified and your frustration grows daily.

The thing that I would like politicians to do is just a thought experiment. For those who currently accept the indebted paradigm; for 24 hours be adamant that the debts should not be paid, and look at the country around them - whether or not the debts should be accepted or whether the events that brought about their unjust acquisition should be seen as negligent and those involved brought to task, may well be answered for them by this exercise. The first step is to accept that it is, in fact, a hole

Tom Healy said...

@Martin - thinking back to the 1980s I know of many who were constrained by economic circumstances to emigratate but would have answered probably 'no' to 'were you forced?'. Another feature of emigration is the devastating effect it can have on some people left behind and on whole neighbourhoods and families. There is no such thing as an acceptable and unavoidable (but regrettable) level of unemployment and large net outward migration among the young. It is down to domestic political choices the basis of which was laid in wrong economic policies stretching back over a long time.

Martin O'Dea said...

Ah Tom,
It's alright - If you saw the 9 o clock news - Enda is Taoiseach, and Denis O'Brien is up on the balcony helping him to ring the bell on the Dow Jones. Obviously a different man to the Lowry, Mahon tribunal debacle gentleman - the days of politicians and ties to business men with ties that are questionable are long gone clearly.
Is there no-one else or is their complete confidence that no hack in the US would look into this and, on our side, either a) a belief that the Irish people wouldn't have a problem with this, or b)no concern whether they do or not or c) a belief that the man who stands indicted with one of their own politicians who has brought most scandal to their party is too significant a figure in Ireland to be denied this moment