More than one in six people born in Ireland are now living abroad,according to a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Analysis from the OECD shows that 17.5 percent over people over 15 years of age who were born in Ireland were living abroad in 2014, the Irish Times reports.
Ireland topped the survey of the 34 OECD member countries, outranking New Zealand and Portugal, which both had 14 percent of their over-15 populations living overseas, and Mexico, Luxembourg and Iceland, which all have around 12 percent residing abroad.
A recently published OECD report on Irish migration in the biennial assessment of the Irish economy said that the country experienced a “resurge” in emigration after the latest recession. This came after a period of high immigration and low emigration during the Celtic Tiger.
The report says the “resulting population outflow has been large, both by international and Irish historical standards."
The report said that although the latest migration figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) indicate the outflow of people from Ireland has begun to slow, “emigration remains high.”
“Emigration has played an important role in Ireland as a macroeconomic adjustment mechanism, preventing unemployment rates above 20 per cent seen in other crisis countries and limiting scarring effects of being out of work. But it also entails trade-offs and risks,” the report said.
Before the recession, Ireland had one of the largest youth cohorts in the OECD, but this has “this age advantage has decreased”, with high youth emigration a leading factor.
According to CSO figures, the Irish population has seen a 34 percent drop in the number of 20- to 24-year-olds, and a 27.5 per cent drop in 25- to 29-year-olds over the past seven years.
The OECD report cites high unemployment, poor career prospects, and low salaries compared to other advanced economies as the main reasons for high emigration.
Although Ireland’s emigration numbers will “remain significant” in the coming years, the OECD predicts the numbers leaving will continue to decrease as the Irish economy improves, while the numbers immigrating will progressively rise.
The OECD report said that returning Irish emigrants “could play a significant role in the recovery of Ireland’s economy”, by bringing back “skills, relevant working experience and networks.”
However, more needs to be done to make the country an attractive destination for highly skilled workers, such as ensuring the availability of affordable housing and childcare, and a higher standard of education and healthcare provision.
Tax incentives were recommended to encourage Irish emigrants to return, including tax deductions for relocation expenses such as travel.
Political representation for emigrants and the lack of a right to vote in Irish elections left also “significant room for improvement.”
“Allowing for the participation of Irish emigrants in [THE]domestic electoral process would reinforce their attachment to Ireland, would bolster the linkages that Ireland has been successfully building over the years, and would make a positive contribution to emigrants’ wellbeing,” said the report.