THE brain drain of bright Irish people leaving for foreign countries is unlikely to be stemmed any time soon, with a startling one in four people saying they are 'fairly' or 'very' likely to emigrate in the near future.
A lack of confidence in the economy and concerns about their financial situation is forcing a worryingly high proportion of our best and brightest 30-somethings to consider a move abroad to help provide a better life, the Irish Independent/Today FM Behaviour and Attitudes survey shows.
And while the highest number of people who believe economic necessity will drive them from our shores is among the 20-to-29-year-olds (37pc), a surprisingly high number of those aged 30 to 39 also fail to see a future in Ireland.
Some 23pc of those in this age group believe they are likely to emigrate over the next five years, despite being more likely to be settled, with families, jobs – and a mortgage.
The survey shows that men in their 30s are more likely to consider emigration than women (24pc compared with 21pc).
But despite a shortage of jobs in rural Ireland, people living outside Dublin are less likely to take flight to pastures new – the survey shows that just 17pc of those in their 30s living outside the Pale believe emigration is a real prospect, compared with 35pc of their counterparts in Dublin.
The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that the numbers of people moving abroad continues to rise – emigration in the year to April 2013 is estimated to have reached 89,000, an increase of 2.2pc on the same period the previous year.
Some 41,000 of this group are aged between 25 and 44. Slightly over half are men.
"It is extraordinarily high," he said. "If you look at people who left in 2006 and 2007 at the beginning of the crisis, many said they did so for a different experience. Now, it's people leaving for employment-related reasons – they're unemployed, or have jobs but don't feel they have a future. Even if they have a job, they need a career."
His research, conducted by University College Cork (UCC) and the Irish Research Council (IRC) and published earlier this year, also found that almost half of emigrants were in full-time employment when they left.
Emigration was twice as likely to involve those from rural, not urban areas, it also found – in contrast to our survey, where Dubliners in their 30s said they were more likely to emigrate.