The Northern Irish population grew last year by one per cent, (17,000 people) according to estimates from the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency. More than half the growth is due to in-migration, as opposed to natural growth and is significantly up from the year before. The NISRA:
“Between 2005 and 2006 it is estimated Northern Ireland’s population grew by more than 17,000. Northern Ireland has seen significant migration since European Union expansion in May 2004 and last year for the first time migration contributed more to population growth than natural change.”
There were main factors:
– a natural change of 8,300 people (22,700 births and 14,400 deaths);
– estimated net migration into Northern Ireland from Great Britain of 900 people; and
– estimated net international migration into Northern Ireland from outside the UK of 9,000 people.
Population growth due to migration (+9,900 people) was the highest ever observed and for the first time was larger than natural growth (+8,300 people). In the decade to 2004 the annual rate of population increase was around 7,000 persons (0.4%) each year. The 2005 and 2006 increases in population are significantly larger at 14,000 people (0.8%) and 17,000 people (1.0%) respectively.
Meanwhile, in the Republic, CSO has released their birth rate stats, and the rate seems to be back on the rise, though it remains slightly below natural replacement levels:
Women in the Republic are continuing to have more children than women in most EU countries, despite high childcare costs and record numbers of women in employment.
Irish women have an average of 1.9 children, compared with Finland (1.8), Germany (1.3) and Poland (1.2). Only France has a higher fertility rate (1.94).
Sociologists say the increase in Ireland’s fertility rate is strongly linked to the economy and the abundance of jobs. Birth rates in Ireland declined quickly during the 1980s. However, the figure began to rise in the mid-1990s, in parallel with economic growth.
While Ireland’s fertility rate is high, it is just under the level which would maintain population levels in the long run (2.1).
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty