Tuesday 17 October 2017

Number of Irish-Americans in the US is fading fast, with further drops expected

Taoiseach Enda Kenny presents US President Donald Trump with the traditional bowl of shamrock in the White House for St Patrick's Day. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Taoiseach Enda Kenny presents US President Donald Trump with the traditional bowl of shamrock in the White House for St Patrick's Day. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Rebecca Lumley

The number of people claiming to be Irish-American has fallen dramatically in the last few years and is only set to drop further, according to a Pew Research Centre report.

People who declared Irish-American ancestry in the US dropped by 4.2 million between 2009 and 2015, setting course for the number of Irish-Americans to dip below 30 million by 2020.

According to a 2009 American Community survey, 36.9 million Americans claimed Irish heritage. This number fell significantly just a year later, when just 34.7 million Irish-Americans were recorded in the US Census.

Figures dropped further in the 2015 Census, when just 32.7 million Americans listed Irish ancestry. In 2015 Irish-Americans made up 10pc of the US population.

As stated in the Pew report 'The Fading of the Green', there has been an overall drop of six million over 15 years. In 1990, 38.7 million people identified as Irish-American, making up 15.6pc of the total population.

Several factors could be to blame for the decline, according to the report. It states that as an “ancestral group” Irish-Americans are “older than the US population as a whole.”

In 2013, the median age of Irish-Americans was 40.5, while the median age nationally was 37.8.

The report also notes that “(Irish are not) immigrating to the U.S. in anything close to the numbers they used to.”

In 2015 just 1,607 Irish-born people obtained legal permanent residency. With tighter border controls and insular immigration policy coming into effect, this trend is unlikely to reverse.

The Pew report also notes that when completing the Census, Americans can only list two countries of ethnic descent. This may impose bias on the survey’s findings and limit Americans of multiple ethnicities.

New England states retain the highest proportion of Irish-Americans, as many immigrants in the 1800s settled close to the Northeastern Port. Massachusetts comes out on top nationally, with 21.6pc of the population claiming Irish ancestry.

Online Editors

Independent.ie Comments Facility

INM has taken the decision to remove the commenting facility on its online platform Independent.ie to minimise the legal risk to our business that arises from Ireland's draconian libel awards system.

We continue to look forward to receiving comments through direct email contact or via social media, some of which may still be featured on the website Independent.ie


Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News