One-in-nine people living in Ireland was born abroad — and despite the recession, immigration levels are continuing to grow.
A detailed analysis of last year’s census figures by the CSO has revealed the changing face of Irish society — and highlighted how certain claims against migrants are unfounded.
According to the breakdown, between 2002 and Apr 2011, Ireland’s immigrant population rose by 143%, a rate that includes a 30% increase since 2006.
Nine years ago, just under 6% of people in this country were born outside Ireland.
However, the latest rates show this level has since jumped to 12%, or 544,000 people out of a total 4.57m population.
The figures show 199 nationalities are represented across the country — with Polish, Latvians, Lithuanians, Slovakians, and Hungarians seeing their communities surge by over 1,000% in just under a decade.
The 122,585 Polish people in Ireland now account for this country’s largest ethnic minority, relegating the 112,259 British passport holders to the third largest group for the first time. Areas like Dublin City (88,038 migrants), Fingal (49,517), and Cork county (42,886), are the most likely homes to people coming to Ireland.
However, despite the high rates in the capital and Cork, Galway City has the title of most diverse area in Ireland — with one-in-five people coming from abroad.
Despite a discriminatory belief held by some that many migrants who come to Ireland are unqualified, the CSO figures confirm one-in-three newcomers have a degree or higher qualification.
Those most likely to have these qualifications are Indian nationals (77.3%), Filipinos (64.5%), and US citizens (55.9%).
Some 268,180 migrants are working — 15.1% of this country’s workforce, while 49,915 are students, 19,619 are retired British nationals, and 37,164 are looking after family homes.
The records also show that when it comes to family life, the Irish-born and migrant trends are almost identical.
Of the 465,788 migrants aged 15 or over in Apr 2011, 49% were married compared to 47% for Irish- born people. The rate of separations/divorces was marginally higher, at 7.9% compared to 5.3%, while 34% were part of a couple with children — mirroring the 35% Irish-born level.
Within the household, more than 500,000 people now speak a language other than Irish or English.
Ireland’s ethnic mix is likely to continue to grow, with the CSO recording 25,198 children born in Ireland to migrants.
Breakdown of the birth rate
* The average age for women to become mothers for the first time now stands at 30, while the age women have their children continues to grow.
New Central Statistics Office figures show that in the first three months of this year, 7,693 children were born to first-time mothers, who were on average 29.9 years old.
The average age of a new mother, regardless of how many children they have previously had, is also rising and now stands at 31.8 years.
The rate, 18 months higher than a decade ago, follows a recent Irish Examiner report highlighting the older mothers’ trend.
It is further supported by the fact 1,020 of 19,313 births in Ireland between Jan and March were to mothers aged 40 or over, with another 4,630 involving women aged 34-39.
However, despite the rise in new mother ages, 460 girls under the age of 20 still gave birth between Jan and March.
While births, deaths and marriages have fallen since the first quarter of 2011, Ireland’s population has still seen a natural increase of 11,334 people.
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