Sunday, September 30, 2012

Irish Emigration Increases

Say what you want about the Irish economy, but it is not suffering from labor immobility. During the height of its housing bubble, in the year to April 2007, it had net immigration (note the emphasis on "net") of about 105,000 people, the equivalent of about 220,000 in Sweden, 1.4 million in the U.K. and 7 million in the United States.

Immigration at that time came mainly from Eastern Europe, but to a lesser extent also of returning Irish expatriates.

Now that the Irish housing boom has ended and turned into a slump, not only has net immigration stopped, it has turned into sizeable net emigration. Though net immigration from Eastern Europe has more or less ended, it is not the case that very many of these previous immigrants are returning. Most are staying in Ireland, though some seem to be moving on to other countries. Moreover, native Irish has started to emigrate  in large numbers, mainly to other English speaking countries like the U.K., the U.S., Australia and Canada.  As a result, net emigration rose to 34,400 in the year to April 2012, the equivalent of more than 2 million in net emigration for the U.S.

Note that the Irish population still increased somewhat because the Irish birth rate, though slowly decreasing, is still very high.