Wednesday 18 October 2017

Ireland home to seven million by 2041

Fergus Black and Charlie Weston

IRELAND'S population is set to climb to its highest level in 200 years and could reach a staggering seven million by the middle of the century, new figures reveal.

We will be living longer but the country will be a much older one with the number of pensioners aged 65 and over expected to triple by 2041 -- posing major implications for pension funds and the burgeoning healthcare service.

The Central Statistics Office projections emerged as Social and Family Affairs Minister Martin Cullen warned that one million workers would be forced to rely on the state pension as their main retirement income unless they act now.

And with the prospect of people working well beyond retirement age, Age Action Ireland said people should be encouraged to continue working beyond the age of 65 if they wished and to be allowed to continue paying their PRSI contributions.

"More 65-year-olds are fitter and healthier than 30 to 40 years ago and it's in society's interest that people are allowed continue to work beyond that age," said Eamon Timmins of Age Action Ireland.

The latest population and labour force projections from the CSO coincided with yesterday's launch of National Pensions Action Week. The fact that one-in-four people have made no provision of any kind for their retirement may mean many of them will be forced to scrimp on food and heating to survive in old age.

Mr Cullen warned that pension provision was very weak among women, workers in the retail, hospitality and farming sectors, migrants and young people.

Action

"Some one million people in the workforce at present will rely on a social welfare pension for their main retirement income unless action is taken," he said.

He warned that the longer people put off starting a pension, the harder it would be to build up a decent pensions pot.

The CSO study, 'Population and Labour Force Projections 2011-2041' is based on several contrasting scenarios linked to future trends in fertility, mortality, migration and the labour force.

Based on the assumption that net migration remains at zero, and fertility rates continue to decline, the study suggests that the Irish population will grow from its present 4.25 million to 4.9 million by 2041.

But if migration rates continue at a high level over the next decade and fertility levels remain the same, the population could climb by 650,000 over the next 13 years and reach seven million by 2041.

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