The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today (20 June 2018) released the Population and Labour Force Projections 2017-2051 report. Commenting on the report, James Hegarty Statistician said: “Ireland’s population, which stood at 4.74 million in April 2016, is projected to reach 6.69 million in 2051 (a rise of just under two million persons) if there is high net inward migration and high fertility. Even with low net inward migration and declining fertility, Ireland’s population is still expected to reach 5.58 million in 2051.”
The report presents six population projections under contrasting scenarios for each year from 2017 to 2051 and three labour force projections are presented up to 2031. Mr. Hegarty explained. “The report is not an attempt to predict the future but rather presents how the population could evolve under different scenarios. By making assumptions about future trends in mortality, migration and fertility, we can project the population forward and examine the possible outcomes for demographic groups such as the school-going population, the working-age population and the elderly.”

Primary school-going population (ages 5 – 12) set to decrease from the year 2021 to 2031
The number of primary school-aged children is projected to increase from its 2016 level of 548,100 to between 555,500 and 562,000 by 2021. Thereafter, the number of primary school pupils is expected to fall to between 510,900 and 457,600 by 2031. This represents decreases of between 6.8% and 16.5% on the 2016 figure of 548,100. In 2051, there will be between 453,900 and 607,600 primary school-aged children, depending on the scenario chosen.

Children of secondary school age (13 – 18) set to increase to the year 2026
The secondary school-aged population is projected to increase by between 67,300 and 75,700 persons by 2026 depending on the assumption used, equating to increases of between 18.2% and 20.5% on the 2016 level of 369,900 persons. By 2051, there will be between 330,300 and 439,600 secondary school-aged children.

Substantial rises in the older population
The CSO publication reveals that, irrespective of the combination of assumptions used, there will be between 1.5 and 1.6 million persons aged 65 years and over by 2051, compared with 629,800 in 2016. Therefore, while around 13.3% of the population was aged 65 years and older in 2016, this will rise to between 23.9% and 27.4% in 2051.

The number of persons aged 80 years and over is projected to rise from 147,800 in 2016 to between 535,900 (+262.6%) and 549,000 (+271.4%) in 2051, depending on the scenario chosen.

Labour force growth set to continue
Assuming net inward migration of 10,000 people annually (M3), the labour force is expected to grow from 2,338,600 persons in 2016 to 2,628,700 in 2031, or a rise of 12.4% over the period.
With the more optimistic M2 scenario there is a rise of 397,800 (+17.0%) to a labour force of 2,736,400 persons in 2031 while the most optimistic scenario M1 has a rise of just over half a million (504,300 persons or +21.6%) to 2,842,900. These equate to annual labour force increases of approximately 33,600 under M1, some 26,500 under M2 and 19,300 persons under M3.
Mr. Hegarty concluded: “The CSO are assisted in this work by an Expert Group consisting of representatives of government departments, as well as the universities and other relevant bodies, and we would like to put on record our appreciation for their time on this work”.
Editor’s Note:
The following is a summary of the assumptions underlying the projections:
The high fertility assumption (F1) envisages the Total Fertility Rate (TFR), remaining at the 2016 level of 1.8 for the lifetime of the projections. The low assumption (F2) would see a decline in the TFR from its current level of 1.8 to 1.6 by 2031, remaining constant thereafter.
Life expectancy is assumed to increase from 2015 levels of 79.3 years for males to 85.6 years by 2051. The corresponding figures for females are 83.3 and 88.3 years.
The high migration scenario (M1) assumes annual net immigration of 30,000 over the projection period. Migration scenario (M2) assumes a more modest net inflow of 20,000 per annum to 2051. The third scenario (M3) assumes net inward migration of 10,000 for the entire period.
The labour force participation rates of males will recover to 2006 rates and there will be increases in the labour force participation rates of older males. The labour force participation rates of married and unmarried females will continue to converge while there will also be increases in the labour force participation rates of older females.
For further information contact:
James Hegarty (+353) 21 453 5429 or Caroline Barrett (+353) 21 453 5485
or email demography@cso.ie

Full report is availabe on the official CSO government website.




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