Belfast Telegraph

Baby boom sees population soar

A baby boom has caused the population to soar to levels not seen for 160 years, despite a wave of mass migration during the recession.

Preliminary figures show 4,58,269 people were in the country on census night, April 10, an increase of 341,000 (8.1%) over the past five years.

The figure has not been as high since 1851, after more than a million people had died from starvation and disease in the Great Famine. Another two million were lost through emigration in the years that followed. The population plummeted from 6.5 million in 1841 to 5.1 million in 1851, and was just over four million by 1871.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said 363,500 births, and 140,700 between 2006 to 2011, have given a natural increase of 222,800 people. "This is extremely strong by international comparisons," the CSO added.

The country also experienced strong inward migration for the early years of the five years - about 118,650 people - which was followed by a switch to outward migration in the latter years.

Government Chief Whip, minister Paul Kehoe, said the figures were the first snapshot of what will in time be a detailed portrait of the Ireland of 2011. "Just as people today have the opportunity to get a better understanding of the Ireland of the early 20th century by viewing the 1901 and 1911 census online, I believe that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have a better understanding of the times we live in thanks to the results of the 2011 census," he added.

Statistician Shaun McLaughlin said the scanning and processing of the two million census forms has begun, but that the first definitive results will not be published until next March.

Its preliminary figures include headcount totals for males and females and population changes for geographical areas including counties, constituencies and electoral divisions. It showed the highest percentage increase was in Dublin's commuter counties topped by a 20% jump in County Laois, more than twice the rate for the state as a whole.

Other counties showing strong population growth were Cavan (13.9%), Fingal (13.8%), Longford (13.3%), Meath (13.0%) and Kildare (12.7%). As in the previous census, Cork City and Limerick City were the only two of the 34 administrative counties in the state to register a fall in population during the 2006-2011 period.

And in a reversal of the 2006 census, when there were slightly more males than females, there are now more females than males in the country with 981 males for every 1,000 females.

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