Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland population rises by 5.8% in decade - 23,100 births and net immigration of 4,100

By Mark McConville

Northern Ireland's population has increased by 10,600 in the past year, a new report has said.

The population now stands at 1.882m people - an increase of 0.6% from 2017 and 5.8% from a decade earlier in 2008.

The annual increase is driven by a natural growth of 6,700 people, with 23,100 births and 16,400 deaths.

A net inward migration of 4,100 people has also contributed to the growth with 23,600 people moving here to live and 19,500 people leaving to live elsewhere.

Net migration was at its highest level since 2008, the analysis from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency found.

The report is produced on an annual basis and details the number of people resident at June 30 each year. The latest report refers to June 2018.

The estimates show the continued ageing of the population.

Over the previous year the number of people aged 65 or more increased by 1.7% to 308,200 people.

The number of children aged under 16 also increased, but by a lower rate of 0.7%, up to 393,500 children.

This meant that young people (0-16) make up 20.9% of Northern Ireland's population while 16.4% were aged 65 or over.

Dr Ian Shuttleworth
Dr Ian Shuttleworth

The majority of the population was made up by the other two categories with 579,500 (30.8%) aged 16-39 and 600,400 (31.9%) aged 40-64.

Dr Ian Shuttleworth, senior lecturer in human geography at Queen's University, Belfast, said: "The aging population will put more strain on care and provision but this will depend on health as healthy older people will need less support.

"There is an interesting debate on ageing as it presents both challenges and opportunities.

"The challenges are well documented but the opportunities involves healthy older people doing certain jobs or providing childcare.

"The ageing population will also see pressure on education. We have already seen smaller schools being closed recently.

"That trend will continue as a great proportion of funds will have to be spent on older people.

"As the percentage of people of working age declines and the percentage of people who depend on services increases, this is only natural."

Over the three decades from 1988 to 2018 the median age (i.e. the age at which half the population is older and half is younger) of the Northern Ireland population has increased from 30.4 to 38.7 years.

It is projected that from 2028 onwards the older population (people aged 65 and over) will be larger than the number of children (0-15). There are slightly more females 955,400 (50.8%) to 926,200 (49.2%) males.

The population in all Local Government Districts (LGDs) increased, ranging from 1.2% in Lisburn & Castlereagh LGD to 0.1% in Derry City & Strabane LGD.

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