Ireland is not returning to the dark days of mass emigration, Taoiseach Brian Cowen has pledged.
With 100,000 people predicted to flee over the next four years, Mr Cowen accepted the Government had been unable to create enough jobs.
But the Taoiseach said the country was not facing the prospect of a repeat of the huge exodus of young workers in the 1950s and 1980s.
"We're not going back to those days," Mr Cowen said.
"What we're talking about here is the fact that we have many people who have come to Ireland over the past 10 years, many of whom are also returning home because the job opportunities obviously are no longer there in the numbers that there were.
"And there are also many of our own people who are leaving, some voluntarily, some because we haven't been able to produce enough jobs in the immediate term."
Mr Cowen said 65,000 people left the country this year, while 30,000 came in.
The Government on Thursday revealed taxpayers would be hit with a 6 billion euro slash-and-burn budget next month, with spending cuts making up two-thirds of the package.
Outlining details of the four-year budgetary plan the Department of Finance revealed it expects 100,000 people to emigrate up to 2014, with 45,000 to go next year.
"There's a flow of people coming and going so we're simply reflecting that in the projections for the four-year plan," Mr Cowen added.