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Are young people really being pushed from Ireland's shore? We asked them (and everyone else)

8% of people aged between 18-34 years old have said they are actively planning to emigrate from Ireland.

ALMOST 1 IN 10 people aged between 18 and 34 say they are actively planning to emigrate from Ireland.

A poll by The Journal and Ireland Thinks found that 8% of young people in Ireland are planning to leave the country, while one-third of the age group say that they are considering it.

A significant proportion – 16% – say they would like to leave but won’t. The poll shows how emigration is seen as a tangible option by more than half of young people in the country. 

The level of emigration among young people has spiked concerns – particularly from the front-line public sector  – that the country is running out of educated young workers.

Ireland has one of the highest numbers of young people still living at home in the EU, rental prices outside of Dublin are increasing, and prices remain significantly higher than they were following the recent inflation crunch – all of which has made emigration seem like an attractive option for many young people. 

In the latest series of polls conducted by The Journal and Ireland Thinks, 1,633 people were asked if they have considered emigrating recently.

Just 3% of respondents across all age groups said they were planning to move abroad while 14% said they were considering the idea.

Another 14% said they had not considered emigrating, but would like to, while 70% of respondents said they had not considered the possibility of emigrating whatsoever.

The lure of emigrating among young people was higher when compared to the overall number of respondents.

Besides the 41% of respondents aged between 18 and 34 who were either actively planning to emigrate or considering it, this age group also had the smallest percentage of people saying they had not considered the possibility at all.

Of those who say they intend to move, over a third of them are seeking to move to another EU country. However, the majority (61%) said they would move to another country where English is the first language instead. 

Most - 29% - said they were planning to move to Australia or New Zealand while 23% said they intended to move to North America. Just 9% said they would move to the United Kingdom.

Who is leaving Ireland’s shores?

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) found last year that there had been an increase in the number of people leaving Ireland but the caveat with the statistics is that less than half of the group were Irish-born and even fewer were young people, suggesting that some were returning to a country they had originally come from. 

In April 2023, the CSO found that the emigration levels in Ireland reached 64,000, one of the highest levels since 2016. Of the total group, less than half – 30,500 – were Irish citizens.

Ireland actually has a similar percentage of citizens leaving the country compared with Denmark, the country that Irish voters this week said was most like Ireland.

However, the actual number of people leaving Denmark is much lower. Just over 17,600 Danish people emigrated from Denmark in 2023.

Previous polling in 2022 also found that the majority of young people have considered moving abroad, citing concerns with the cost of living, housing and mental health difficulties as a result of the cost of education and transport.

Private renters are more likely to consider emigrating

While the economy is set to grow and inflations rates are set to fall over the next two years, these forecasts are flanked by warnings from the Central Bank that say the State must get its act together on housing first for those estimations to come true.

Housing prices outside of Dublin are continuing to rise while rent prices are not falling in any region of the country either. Private housing stock is now also at its lowest level in 17 years.

Furthermore, in June last year it was found that over 25% of young people in Ireland lived with their parents, an increase of 6% since 2019.

The same report, by Eurofound, also revealed that homeownership in Ireland fell within the same period, that Irish people were less likely to rent, own or even live in an apartment and the population who rent privately was higher than the EU average.

But the type of housing arrangement didn’t seem to be a factor in the decision for the respondents of our poll.

None of respondents who rent from a council and just 1% of mortgage holders and homeowners, respectively, said they were planning to emigrate.

Half of those who live with their parents said they were not considering moving abroad either, while those who did plan on emigrating represented just 8% of the group. 

The remainder of those who live with their parents did not rule out the possibility of moving abroad.

Notably, however, those living private, rented accommodation were more likely to be considering a move than others in different housing tenures.

While just 8% of private renters said they were actively planning to emigrate, the group had the largest amount of people considering a move, compared to those living at home or with a mortgage.

In total, more than half (51%) of private renters were open to the idea of emigrating while 38% of them said they had considered moving abroad recently. Private renters were more likely to consider moving to another EU member state or North America.

The poll of 1,633 people was carried out between the 2 and 7 May and has a margin of error of +/- 2.4%.

This work is co-funded by Journal Media and a grant programme from the European Parliament. Any opinions or conclusions expressed in this work are the author’s own. The European Parliament has no involvement in nor responsibility for the editorial content published by the project. For more information, see here.

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