Those CSO migration figures: A health warning

An tSaoi26/09/2009

An Saoi: Our friends in the CSO have given us at long last their estimates of migration in the year to April last. The figures reflect the return of net emigration, but not to the extent that I would suggest is really happening.

A quick perusal of the tables raises many questions. For example, it suggests in both 2008 and 2009 periods there was net immigration from the United States. Does that tally with your personal experience? Because it certainly does not tally with that of anyone I have spoken to on the subject. However, without some real figures from other sources, we must accept them. I decided instead to look at the UK figures, where there are figures available. Here, the CSO suggests there was small net emigration.

I decided to do some digging and compare figures. The UK National Statistics office provided me with the following number of adult Irish people whoobtained National Insurance Nos. (NiNo)


But, these figures do not include anyone moving from Ireland to the UK who already has a National Insurance Number, or students moving to the UK who apply for a health card.

The ability of the CSO to accurately estimate migratory flows in a country which does not oblige its residents to register their place of abode is akin to going into a boxing ring with both hands tied behind your back. The Lithuanian CSO reviewed their own estimates of migratory trends, and felt that they had massively underestimated population movements (see Tables here). Now, if they cannot accurately estimate the figures in a country where registration of residence is obligatory, how are the CSO here to do so? The Lithuanians can tell us the number of little Litthuanians born each year in Ireland, but our friends in Skehard Road, Cork, cannot.

A comparison with inward migration and the issuance of PPS Numbers to UK Nationals (over 15) in Ireland also throws up discrepancies. The most recent CSO report on the issue is available here. A word of warning however: issuance of PPS Nos. is not directly comparable with National Insurance Numbers in the UK. A number is, for example, required when a person takes an inheritance, however small, under an Irish will - even though not resident in the State.

The publication of the report is to be welcomed, but the figures should come with a serious health warning.

Posted in: Europe

Tagged with: migration


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