More than a quarter of the Irish population have had a close family member emigrate over the past two years, a stark new report reveals.
And just under half of those still living in Ireland have considered moving abroad, according to the survey.
The study was carried out last October by pollsters Red C for the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI). The survey found younger people were more likely to consider emigrating, with half of all 18 -24-year-olds stating it was an option for them.
Overall, nearly half the country (45%) have either considered moving abroad or have had a close family member move overseas since 2010.
The main reason for leaving home was found to be lack of employment opportunities or an expectation of better work prospects abroad. More than eight in 10 people said the Government is not doing enough to address youth unemployment and youth emigration.
The vast majority (88%) of those leaving Ireland in 2011 were aged between 15 and 44 years, with more than four in ten aged between 15 and 24 years.
"The implications of losing such large numbers of our youth population will remain to be seen," the report's authors state. "Undoubtedly the effects of brain drain and losing a significant proportion of young people means a loss of a highly skilled, educated workforce and the loss of a generation of Irish people."
In the last four years, 308,000 people have left Ireland - 125,000 of those aged between 15 and 24 years.
While the UK was the destination of choice during mass emigration in the 1980s, recent figures show a fall-off in numbers heading to our nearest neighbour. Many Irish emigrants are now moving further afield to the EU or US.