Fast Facts about Ireland: People & Society

This page has, at a quick glance, a lot of major demographic information about Ireland.

Much new data became available recently from the census held in 2016 and where it is available that is used here. Other figures may be earlier, and if so this is stated.

This page is updated regularly with new up-to-date data as it becomes available – check the date at the bottom of the page for the time of last update.

1. Population of Ireland

Population: 2002-2016

Population by Age: 2011

Looking at the two charts above, two things are obvious:

  1. The populaton is increasing quite quickly: up almost 20% in 14 years, though the rate of growth seems to have slowed.
  2. Ireland has a young population: almost 44% are 30 or under (note that there is an increase in age in the 2016 census, but detailed figures are not yet available.)

Much of this can be put down to the large number of immigrants who have moved from other EU states and elsewhere to live and work in Ireland over the past few years. Another factor is our high birth rate – the highest in the EU with 15.7 live births per thousand of the population in 2013.

Birth Rates: 2013

The number of births outside marriage has been rising steadily in Ireland for years, and in 2013 over 35% of births were outside marriage. The average age at which a women first gives birth is also rising, and in 2012 was about 32, with married women a little older (33) and unmarried women a little younger (29).

However the days of the huge Irish family with 10 or more children is well and truly over – for which many women are truely thankful! The birth rate per 1000 of population has been decreasing steadily for many years.

Note the precipitous drop between 1980 and 1990 – the ’80s was the decade when contraception finally became available in Ireland. I am not sure what caused the bounce in 2010, but perhaps it was the effect of the recession – people staying home more with little to do except… make babies!

2. Migration

Once  – and still to a large degree – a nation of emigrants, Ireland has become home to an increasing number of immigrants over the last couple of decades.In the 2016 census, 810,406 people or 17.3% of those normally resident in Ireland were born in another country. These people come from a huge range of countries, but the countries below are those most represented.

3. The move from country to city

Many people still have the view that Ireland is largely a rural country, with most people living in the the countryside or in small villages. This has not been the case for many years and the population is increasingly urbanised, with 63% now living in cities or towns, nearly 1.2million of them in Dublin, which is by a very long way the largest and most populous centre.

4. Education

Level of Education:

Over 3 million people have completed their full-time education, with just over 600,000 still in full time education. The chart below shows the levels at which education was completed. Approximate US equivalents are in brackets.

 5. Irish Language

Things are not looking great for the Irish Language.Only about 30% of people say they can speak Irish and for all but a tiny proportion of those it isn’t their primary language and is one they seldom use.

Of those who speak it daily most do so in connection with education – surprisingly given the low number who say they can speak Irish it’s a compulsory subject in school and is taught to almost all students from when they enter school aged about 5 until they leave at about 18.

Article updated: April 6, 2017 | Image Credits

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