Irish population booms
Irish population booms

Ireland’s population may exceed seven million by 2016 if current immigration patterns and improving medical standards continue, it is predicted.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) forecast the population of the 26 Counties will hit five million by the middle of the next decade.

With similar trends in the north the population of the entire island is expected to top seven million in little more than 10-years time.

This will see the number of Irish people approach before famine cut it by a third in the mid-19th century.

It is predicted that the 26 County economy will need 45,000 immigrant workers every year for the next 12 years just to sustain the current economic growth, an increase by 10,000 every year from current levels.

Meanwhile, the Irish population is aging.

More than 1.1 million old people - over 65s - will be living in Ireland in 2036 compared with 430,000 in 2001.

In the 2001 census this age group made up just 11 per cent of the country’s population.

Men and women are also expected to live for substantially longer. The life expectancy for men is expected to increase from 75.1 years in 2002 to 82.47 years in 2036.

Despite dropping dramatically, the 26 Counties has one of the highest fertility rates in Europe at 1.97 children per woman. In the Six Counties, the average number of children a northern woman will have has reduced by a whole child to 1.81 in the past 25 years, although this is still higher than in Britain, where the rate is now about 1.7.

It follows similar trends of dropping birth-rates across Europe. The implication is that, without increases in immigration, the aging population will soon become a drain on the economy, particularly on the health and caring professions and social services.

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