Tom Healy: Today's 'feel good' story in the Irish Times ran as 'Emigrants leaving by choice'. Nice to know that some people still have choices. Politicians seem to believe there is much less choice than before. How much migration is really taking place and who is emigrating - and even still immigrating to the State? There is much less hard data on this than many assume. The CSO estimate an annual gross outward migration of 76,000 in the year ending 2011 - many are young and single. 50% of respondents to the Ipsos MRBI poll reported in today's IT felt it was their 'choice' to emigrate when asked 'Did you feel forced to emigrate or was it your choice'. 42% said the left Ireland for 'a change of experience'. Writer Stephen Collins says: 'The findings appear to back the contention of Minister for Finance Michael Noonan that emigration is a lifestyle choice for many who have left the country in recent times'. While one does not wish to take from yet another feel good story building on all the other good news recently a few questions are in order -
all of this not to question necessarily the reliability of the results. Just caution is needed. Have a great St Patricks weekend commemorating an immigrant who was forced here in the first place - well he chose to come back a second time.
Dr Tom Healy is Director of the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI). He has previously worked in the Economic and Social Research Institute, the Northern Ireland Economic Research Centre, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the National Economic and Social Forum and the Department of Education and Skills.
He holds a PhD (economics and sociology) from UCD. His research interests have included the impact of education and social capital on well-being.