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Regional Population Projections, 2016-2031


Greater Dublin Area population to grow if past patterns of internal migration return

The Central Statistics Office today released the most recent set of regional population projections based on the 2011 census results, showing that the population of the Greater Dublin Area, made up of Dublin and the Mid-East regions, is projected to increase by between 174,000 and 401,000 by 2031, depending on the internal migration pattern used. This represents an average annual increase in the range of 0.5 per cent and 1.0 per cent or between 8,700 and 20,100 each year up to 2031.

Today’s report, Regional Population Projections, 2016-2031 presents population projections for the eight Regional Authority areas under a number of contrasting scenarios relating to regional fertility, mortality trends and external migration from and to each region, consistent with those used at national level and published in April 2013. Three internal migration scenarios are also examined.

The report is not an attempt to predict the future, but rather presents how the population of the various regions will evolve under different scenarios by making assumptions about future trends in migration (both internal and external) and fertility.

Of the six scenarios in the national projections only M2F2 and M3F2 are considered for the regional projections. When these are cross referenced with the three internal migration scenarios examined, namely, “Recent”, “Traditional” and “Modified” it results in six variants for the regional data, namely M2F2 for Recent, Traditional and Modified, and M3F2 for Recent, Traditional and Modified.

Highlights of the report

Regional population change

The population of Dublin is projected to increase by between 96,000 and 286,000 depending on the internal migration pattern used, while the population of the Mid-East is set to increase by between 78,000 and 144,000.

Under the M2F2 Traditional scenario, all regions apart from Dublin and the Mid-East will lose population to internal migration. However, under the same scenario the population will grow in all regions due to natural increase. This is most noticeable in the Border region with projected births of 123,000 and a population increase of just 18,000, and the West which shows projected births of 97,000 and a population increase of 15,000.

Changing age structure across region

Under the scenario M2F2 Traditional, the number of young persons (i.e. those aged 0-14 years) is projected to increase in the Mid-East (+4.7%) between 2011 and 2031, while all other regions will experience a decrease in the population in this age group over the twenty year period.
Under the same scenario, the number of old persons (65 years and over) will almost double in every region over the life-time of the projections, with the most marked increases likely to occur in the Mid-East (+136.5%) and Midland (+95.1%) regions. 

The CSO are assisted in this work by an Expert Group consisting of representatives of government departments, as well as the universities and other bodies, and would like to put on record their appreciation for their time on this work.

Editor’s Note

The following summarises the assumptions underlying the projections:

Internal migration

The three internal migration scenarios are:

  • Recent: The pattern of inter-regional flows observed in the year to April 2011 is applied up to 2031.


  • Traditional: A gradual reversal to the 1996 pattern of inter-regional flows by 2021 is applied and kept constant thereafter.


  • Modified: A pattern of increased movements into Dublin is applied at the expense of all other regions with the exception of the Mid-East. This was achieved by increasing the number of movers into Dublin on the 2011 levels by 2.5 per cent p.a. up to 2016 and holding the level steady thereafter. This increase in movers into Dublin was balanced by increasing the number of movers out of the other regions by the same amount. At the same time the number of movers out of Dublin was marginally reduced to a rate that results in a net gain of just under 4,000 p.a. in 2016 and again held steady thereafter.

The national population projections (published in April 2013) distinguished two fertility assumptions. The high fertility assumption F1 assumes the total fertility rate will remain at the level observed in 2010 of 2.1 for the entire period while the low fertility assumption F2 assumes the total fertility rate will decrease from 2.1 to 1.8 by 2026, and then remain at this level for the remainder of the period. Only F2 is considered in the present release.

At a national level, improvements in life expectancy are assumed to continue for the foreseeable future resulting in male life expectancy increasing from 78.3 years in 2011 to 83.0 years by 2031 and female life expectancy increasing from 82.9 years in 2011 to 86.6 years by 2031. It was decided to use the national mortality assumption across the regions given the relatively small number of deaths in some regions, combined with the relatively small impact of regional differentials in the number of deaths.

International migration

The following three migration assumptions were used in compiling the state projections and reflect assumed average annual net migration:

  2011-2016 2016-2021 2021-2031
M1  -19,100  +18,200  +30,000
M2  -21,600  +4,700  +10,000
M3  -25,100  -10,000  -5,000

A zero net migration scenario M0 was also introduced to allow a full assessment of the impact of migration to be made. Only M2 and M3 are considered in this release.

Under the M2 international migration assumption, all eight regions are projected to show population increases between 2011 and 2031 with the average annual growth rates varying from 0.1 to 1.2 per cent, depending on the internal migration pattern used. Under M3 not all regions are projected to show population increases with average annual population growth rates in the range of -0.2 to 1.0 per cent, again depending on the internal migration assumption chosen.

For copies of the publication:

To view and download the publication, visit the CSO website at Regional Population Projections 2016 - 2031

For further information, contact:
Deirdre Cullen on 01-895 1334 or Declan Smyth on 01-8951345.

Central Statistics Office, Swords Business Campus, Balheary Road, Swords, Co. Dublin.

Census Enquiries: (01) 895 1460

Fax: (01) 895 1399



Central Statistics Office                                                               12 December 2013

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