South much younger than the north, and north east older than the west.

Fascinating report on a new joint study of the census demographics of Ireland

The median age, the point at which half of the population is younger and half is older, was 34 in the Republic, the lowest of any EU member state. The median age in Northern Ireland, while higher at 37, was also comfortably lower than the EU average of 41.

“The highest median age can be seen in eastern areas of Northern Ireland, in particular in Ards, Castlereagh, Larne and North Down at 41. The lowest median age of 31 was found in Galway City,” the report states.

Children aged up to 12 years accounted for 19 per cent of the population of Ireland, compared to 17 per cent in Northern Ireland, which the report says reflected higher birth rates in Ireland in recent years. Over 65s accounted for 15 per cent of Northern Ireland’s population, compared with 12 per cent of that in the Republic.

On another level, despite having the NHS and the south in permanent civil war over free GP cards crises in A&E and underdevelopment, they feel more healthy that we do

It found the proportion of those in the Republic who considered their health to be good or very good (62 per cent and 61 per cent of males and females respectively) was considerably higher than in the North (49 per cent and 47 per cent of males and females respectively).

At the opposite end of the scale, a total of 102,100 (5.6 per cent) persons in Northern Ireland felt that their health was bad or very bad compared with 69,700 (1.6 per cent) in Ireland, which the report said indicated very different perceptions of poor health between the jurisdictions.

The differences seem to be much greater than the differential in age profiles, so something makes us feel more unhappy about our health and wellbeing…


  • Thanks for that Mick,

  • no DLA in the Republic.

  • belfastboyo

    We are all moaners!

  • ForkHandles

    a value of feeling healthy is pretty much nonsense. what matters is getting treatment when you are sick. paying 50 euros to see the doctor in ROI and high dental costs are a nightmare for ROI folks. never mind the disgusting restrictions on health access for old people.

  • Banjaxed

    You’ve just encapsulated, par excellence, exactly what the Tories, ably assisted by our own dear minister of health, are trying to achieve in the UK.

  • carl marks

    “a value of feeling healthy is pretty much nonsense”

    Well not really, any Doctor will tell you that a positive outlook is an aid to good health. Particularly in mental health, Spread that over a whole country and you got a lot less sick people.
    What would tell us more about the state of health in the Republic would be a comparison between workdays lost per head of population between it and the north, but other things would have to be factored in such as, sick pay/sick leave etc.
    And that’s not forget that more people (percentage wise) here work in Government jobs than in the south and those jobs may (I don’t know) have higher benefits( or a more relaxed attitude) in regards to sick leave than their southern counterparts thus encouraging people to take more time off work in health related issues.

  • BarneyT

    Ni workforce is civil service dominated, quite oversubscribed in fact. There is more scope for availing of sick and other employee based initatives than in many other forms of employment. This could skew the stats.
    I agree that mental wellbeing is not to be lessened. There’s a mental health time bomb looming.
    I find it interesting that many that would oppose irish reunification based on the possible loss of the nhs would be happy to usher in a similar us style health approach in the wee six.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Striking how different the Northern Ireland story is, in many ways, from that in the Republic. Highlights:
    – the numbers of people from other European countries in the Republic – 113,488 Polish speakers, the top country, for example, vs 17,731 in Northern Ireland. Plus the presence in sizeable numbers of French, German, Russian, Spanish people we’re not really seeing in NI. Not a surprise but in these new multi-cultural times for NI a reminder the South has been doing it on a much bigger scale for longer.
    – despite the collapse in church attendance in the Republic, the numbers self-identifying as Catholic are still huge (84 per cent) – and the numbers stating no religion or not answering is well below the level of Northern Ireland. Troubles factor? Or because we have more people from Protestant backgrounds, who are perhaps less culturally attached to a church? Interesting the hot spot for ‘no religion’ on the map, around Belfast and the lough, is also the area where those ‘culturally Protestant/British’ (not shown in these data) are most concentrated.
    – the unemployment data is striking, with our unemployment rates less than half of the Republic. Within Northern Ireland, the long-established east / west divide in employment levels persists to some extent but Fermanagh, S Tyrone and even bits of W Tyrone are a relative success story. Both areas have been hit by the financial crisis but the Republic’s experience of it has been of a different magnitude; NI has been cushioned somewhat by being in the UK.
    – the midlands of Ireland seems to be producing young people for export, with high percentages of young people but also high unemployment
    – the difference in perceptions of health is interesting. Higher expectations in NI? We think we’re sick but is that because we have a much high median age? The consequences of having an NHS too? Hard to tell without actual health data
    – the cross-border commuter maps were interesting. Quite a spread of locations around NI sending people south, but in the Republic commuters are much more clustered around the border. Interesting too that cross-border commuting in an overwhelmingly Catholic activity, in both jurisdictions – a whacking 74 per cent of the NI cohort. I’d expect this reflects greater concentrations of Catholics closer to the border as well as perhaps the greater comfort at a cultural level with working in the Republic. Also sizeable numbers originally from one side of the border, now living on the other side and commuting back to their home territory for work. But moving to the other jurisdiction is still small scale – 2.1 per cent of the NI population was born in the Republic – a remarkably small figure.

    Also interesting that despite our growing population in NI, there is a still a downwards trend in terms of our share of the island’s overall population.

  • JR

    I had written a long post on this but somthing happened when I clocked submit and it disappeared. Conviently Mainland Ulsterman has said many of the things I wanted to so no need to re-type.

    One thing that bugs me about this otherwise facinating doccumnet is the way it refers to the south as Ireland. It is very confusing continually refering to The south as Ireland in an all Island doccument. You get sentences like, only 13,000 people living in Northern Ireland were born in Ireland. People living in Belfast working in Ireland etc etc. It is a bugbearer of mine.

  • jonno99

    Agree wholeheartedly with the confusing double standards used to describe parts of the island of Ireland. Referring to the South as Ireland as if Belfast is some how not in Ireland. The Irish constitution insists the 26 county state be known as Ireland which I suspect the authors of the document have taken their lead.

    The Sky news weather reports have joined in on this confusion. I am sure they used to refer to the North or West or South of Ireland in their weather reports. Now we have weather reports for NI and a place called ‘the Republic’; As in not the ROI.

  • antamadan

    Excellent work i.e. maps in the ”new joint study’ link. In many ways just comparing NI and ROI adds little where comparing say NI with Leinster, Munster and the BMW area is useful (RoI having much more of the west to carry); but the maps by electoral district are gold, and do show some real differences caused by the border.

    I would just use the terms North and South, but surely we could all agree on Republic and Northern Ireland (Ireland and Northern Ireland is an insult).

    The unemployment rates for the south are shocking (albeit an extra 50,000 jobs added in the last 12 months).

    Finally, with NI reporting much worse health than the south and given recent UK data showing an incredibly rate of paid carers per capita in N.I.; am I right in saying that a chunk of what is reported as unemployed in the South, would not be reported unemployed in the North, (i.e. the non working disability welfare people are reported differently north and south?)

  • Naughton

    Antamadam, yes, lots of hidden economic poverty in Northern Ireland – “The NI economic inactivity rate at February – April 2014 for those aged 16-64 stood at 26.7%.” (Source NISRA)

  • Kensei

    They’ve used “Ireland” and “Northern Ireland” as those are the names of the states, presumably. Reunify the country, problem solved.

    Employment (or prime age employment) is often a much more interesting statistic than unemployment, it’s a shame it isn’t in there.

    The North appears to have more lone parents than the South -any idea why that is?

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    I agree on the (mis)use of ‘Ireland’ when meaning the Republic – it is utterly confusing. It also seems to have confused Rory McIlroy … 😉
    As I understand, the Republic these days (it didn’t always) insists on Ireland being used as the name of their country. A tad Putinesque if you ask me.

  • Greenflag

    Thanks for the link Mick an interesting demogrphic comparison between both parts of Ireland .

    Looking at the numbers it’s easy to see the impact of the political and economic/social realities on the island over the past century . Of course the starting point i.e 1901 comes 60 years after the population of the island reached 8.4 million in 1840 or 2 million more than today 2014 .No other country in Europe as far as I’m aware has a lesser population today than it did in 1840 .

    Some numerical observations and I’ll use the reports Ireland/Northern Ireland terminology

    The Island population continued to decline from the Great Famine a reduction of some 4 million with most of that being due to emigration -the overall numbers who left must have been in excess of 4 million as each generation after 1841 sent it’s ‘excess ‘ population to wherever they could go presumably .

    It appears from the numbers that the island’s population stabilised after the political upheavals 1912 through 1922 however this disguises continuing high emigration from both North and South . While the population of Northern Ireland slowly increased even to the present day that increase was despite continuing high emigration rates (though not as high as the earlier Free State or Republic’s . Its been estimated that emigration from NI was predominantly from the Nationalist population with a rate of 2.5 to 3 times that of the Unionist population . This ties in with the political impact of the Unionist self government in Northern Ireland 1920-1974 but is also accounted for by the higher Nationalist birth rate throughout this period with probably more than half of the then nationalist population located in the economically marginalised areas west of the Bann . This pattern is still seen suggesting that economic factors are ultimately determinant to the emigration experience .

    Ireland’s drop in population from approx 3 million to 2.8 million in 1961 (the lowest year for the island population also ) has been commented upon as a failure of ‘independence ‘ .Professor Joe Lee has commented on the poor economic policy performance of both Northern Ireland and Ireland in comparison to the experience of other small European democracies such as Denmark , Norway , Belgium etc in the post WW1 period .

    From 1971 to 1981 i.e pre Celtic Tiger .the Ireland population grew by 465,000 and increased the Ireland % of the total by 3.2% . The same period in Northern Ireland saw an increase of just 3,000 or 300 per year and a drop in the % island total of 3.2 % .

    I suspect that some of that drop was troubles related but given that the NI birth rate was probably about the same or slightly less than pre 1971 then only emigration can account for the huge disparity in demographic experience in this period ? Am I missing something here if anyone knows ?

    Since the GFA (1998 ) Northern Ireland’s population has increased by 150,000 and Ireland’s by approx 800,000 with immigration accounting for probably half the increase in both jurisdictions .

    Despite higher emigration in the wake of the 2008/2009 financial meltdown it seems as if demographics will achieve what guns and political pressure could not .

    Which is what Presbyterian Minister the Rev William Marshall -minister of Castlerock told a nationalist friend back in 1933 when he wrote

    ‘I feel convinced that you’ll swamp us yet ” he wrote in 1933 .Your people breed and our’s don’t. Anyone who thinks we’ll be got in any other way is a fool ‘

    Fast forward to 2014 and the Minister’s words still resonate with harsh truth even if his world is long gone ?

  • Greenflag

    The above quote from Presbyterian Minister W. Marshall is from
    Marcus Tanner’s “Ireland’s Holy Wars ‘ Chapter 14 ‘A Tendency towards Defeatism ‘ page 312 .

    The above quoted chapter is I would suggest required reading for anyone North or South or nationalist/unionist /republican /loyalist who may be interested in the human story behind the demographics as seen in the above joint report .