Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

The Young: Emigration... it's a case of the further away the better for some

The standout figure here is the fact that over two thirds of young people between the ages of 16 and 24 see their future outside Northern Ireland.

We may suspect that the actual number leaving is higher because the majority of the sample (63%) was between 19 and 24 and were still living here.

By that age many young people have already opted to live or study outside Northern Ireland.

The chosen destinations split fairly evenly between Britain (19.1%) and the Irish Republic (21.3%).

However more people (27.1%) wanted to move much further afield with destinations like Europe, the US and Australia mentioned.

Young Catholics were more eager to make their futures here. Excluding those who gave none or other in answer to the religion question, 60% of the young people who said they would like to remain here were Catholics with the remaining 40% being Protestants.

For those who wanted to leave the positions were reversed – 60% were Protestants and 40% Catholics.

This feeds into the other studies, like the recent Community Relations Council report, which show uncertainty about the future to be highest among Protestants.

Since the majority of people under 40 are already Catholic, the fact that higher numbers of young Protestants intend to emigrate carries implications for politics here.

However, the religious headcount is, in the end, just the detailed shading in some fairly grim statistical pictures.

The big ticket item is the fact that most young people want to get out of here, many of them as far away as possible.

That shows a lack of belief in our political system, the sort of society we are creating and our economic prospects.

That is a wake-up call for all of us – parents, politicians and voters alike.

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