Fears for future families as flood of young men emigrate to find work
Huge numbers of young men have emigrated over the past six years.
They are leaving at twice the rate of young women -- sparking fears of a gender imbalance in the age group most likely to be looking to settle down and have children.
New research from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) said yesterday that "substantially" more than one in 10 Irish men aged 20 to 30 left the country since the economy began to turn.
Only one in 20 Irish women have left in the same period -- creating a shortage of men in the crucial age group.
The new figures, which follow a detailed analysis of the 2006 and 2011 census returns, challenge Government assumptions that many of those leaving the country are foreign workers returning home.
The research shows instead that foreigners have continued to come to the country while Irish men and women are leaving.
The departure of large numbers of young people could have a long-term effect on pensions and create a shortage of children in years to come, the report suggests.
The much greater number of men leaving home probably reflects the collapse of the construction sector.
Single people are also more likely to leave than married couples, which makes Irish people more likely to seek work overseas than foreign migrants who tend to marry earlier and have children, the report adds.
At least 40,000 people from the 20- to 30-year-old age bracket have left since 2006, according to ESRI researcher Pete Lunn.
The real figure is probably "substantially" larger because the calculations are distorted by some Irish people returning from abroad.
Anecdotal evidence suggests emigration is continuing at high levels since the 2011 census.
A record 21,753 Irish nationals got Australian working holiday visas in the 12 months to June 30 last year or almost 50pc more than was granted the previous year.
Construction workers have been drawn to Australia by a mining and housing boom.
The ESRI said yesterday in a separate report on the economy that emigration is likely to continue in the years ahead. The unemployment rate could fall from 14.9pc this year to 14.7pc next year as people continue to leave, the think tank added.
"As employment opportunities remain weak, migration will remain high and the proportion of immigrants in unemployment will increase," the report said. The new research also shows that Ireland has far more people aged around 30 than other countries.
This bulge is due to high birth rates 30 years ago when religious faith still strong, plus high immigration from young Europeans during the boom years who have stayed and are now in this age group.
"The scale and sharpness of this peak is truly striking," Mr Lunn said in a paper.
The large number of people around 30 explains a recent surge in births, as many people of this age want to start families.
But it also suggests there could be a sharp fall in the birth rate in the years to come -- especially with younger people in their 20s emigrating.
Ireland has 83,000 30-year-olds but only 57,000 15-year-olds.