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Population Projections Results

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The usually resident population according to Census 2016 was 4.74 million and this is projected to grow significantly under the six projection scenarios to 2051.  Table 2.1 and figure 2.1 illustrate the projected population at 5 year intervals for the six scenarios from 2016 - 2051.  The largest change is projected for the high migration and high fertility variant M1F1 (which maintains the Total Fertility Rate at 1.8 over the entire period to 2051, coupled with annual net inward migration of 30,000 persons from 2017 onwards) where the population is projected to grow by 1,953,300 (+41.2%) over the 35 year period to 2051. This equates to an average annual rate of population increase of almost 0.8 per cent. 

The more moderate M2F2 (which assumes annual net inward migration of 20,000 and a declining fertility rate) shows a population increase of 1,290,900 (+27.2%) over the period to 6.03 million persons, equivalent to a 0.69 per cent annual average increase.  Under the most pessimistic variant M3F2 (which assumes annual net inward migration of 10,000 and a declining fertility rate), the population is only expected to increase to 5,578,300 in 2051 or by 17.7%.

Show Table: Table 2.1 Projected population, 2016 - 2051

M1F1M1F2M2F1M2F2M3F1M3F2
20164.74.74.74.74.74.7
202155554.94.9
20265.35.35.25.25.15.1
20315.65.65.45.45.35.2
20365.95.85.75.65.45.3
20416.26.15.95.75.55.4
20466.46.36.15.95.75.5
20516.76.56.265.85.6
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Table 2.2 illustrates how net migration and natural increase (ie. births less deaths) both play important roles in the population change to 2051.  Net migration tends to be the more important component in the high migration scenarios.  For example under the M1F1 variant, the population is projected to increase by 1,953,300 by 2051 with 53.8% of this increase is due to net inward migration and 46.2% is due to natural increase (see figure 2.2).  Under the M1F2 variant, which encompasses high migration and declining fertility 60.3%, of the increase is due to net inward migration and 39.7% natural increase.

Fertility tends to be the more significant component in the low net migration scenarios.  Under the M3F1 variant the population will increase by 1,022,700 to 2051 with 65.8% of this increase due to natural increase and 34.2% to net inward migration. Under the M3F2 variant, the population will increase by 838,700 to 2051, with 58.2% due to natural increase and 41.8% is due to net inward migration.  See figure 2.3.

Show Table: Table 2.2 Components of population change by scenario, 2016 - 2051

(Thousands)
Net
migration
1050
Natural
increase
903.3
(Thousands)
Net
migration
350
Natural
increase
488.4
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The projected number of births, deaths and net migration under the six scenarios are set out for five year periods from 2016 - 2051 in table 2.3.  This table also contains comparable historical inter-censal data from 1926 onwards in order to facilitate comparisons with past trends.

Show Table: Table 2.3 Average annual components of population change for each intercensal period, 1926 - 2051

Births

Annual average births are projected to experience a period of decline towards 2030 under all scenarios, at varying rates depending on the assumption used.  This is a consequence of the projected lower number of women of child bearing years at this time, resulting from a fall in the number of births between the period 1986 and 2006.  Under M1F1 (the most positive scenario) annual births are projected to fall from an annual average of 68,600 in the five year period to 2016 to around 61,600 persons during 2021 to 2026.  Births will subsequently increase just under 75,000 annually by the 2040s.  However for other scenarios such as M1F2 and M3F2 annual average births are projected to reach around 65,000 and 55,000 respectively by 2051.  Figure 2.4 graphs the projected births for each year from 2017 - 2051 for the chosen assumptions.

M1F1M1F2M2F1M2F2M3F1M3F2
2017639006390063900639006390063900
2018631056310562869628696263162631
2019628616233562375618526188761369
2020626116156661862608306111460093
2021621266057761104595826008358587
2022617095966660409584105911057154
2023614845895159897574315831555913
2024614135839059538566075766554828
2025614785796259311559185715153882
2026617095769359248553895679853102
2027619735745459221549045649252371
2028625195747559484546845647651918
2029633495774960048547415678151764
2030641455798460599547815709451610
2031651035836061331549775760451635
2032660195868362034551425810951651
2033670295958062858558745874752221
2034680796051363743566595947152863
2035690416136764559573836014553462
2036699486217165337580746080254041
2037707866291166065587156141754583
2038716046363166779593406203555126
2039723176425867397598836255855584
2040729676481867952603616302555981
2041735726533268465607936344756334
2042741036576968905611516379656611
2043745066608769214613866401356767
2044746856619569290614056399356701
2045747726620669269613216386856528
2046748206616969203611856369156294
2047747596601369018609256338955934
2048746416579368769605936301255495
2049743456540268337600846244354871
2050740526498467888595376184954198
2051737746455767449589746125153503

Deaths

The average annual numbers of deaths are projected to increase steadily under all scenarios from 29,500 in 2016 to between 54,400 and 56,500 by 2051 depending on the scenario chosen. Figure 2.5 graphs the projected deaths for the most optimistic and most pessimistic scenarios, with the other scenarios falling between these.

M1F1M3F2
20172998329983
20183103630987
20193144331343
20203188631740
20213237532178
20223288432647
20233344133156
20243402833704
20253465734282
20263531234887
20273599835530
20283672436224
20293747936934
20303826537670
20313908638436
20323991139213
20334076340026
20344163640835
20354251541671
20364342242511
20374431843370
20384523044229
20394617045093
20404709745964
20414804946821
20424897147688
20434987648520
20445076049326
20455162850109
20465247050871
20475330051610
20485411952324
20495492253033
20505571853730
20515651854434

Natural Increase

In the five years to 2016 the natural increase in the population (i.e. the excess of births over deaths) was 39,100 persons and by 2051 this is expected to decline substantially. Under the most positive M1F1 scenario the natural increase is projected to be 19,400 in the five years to 2051, representing a decline of 50.4% from 2016 levels.  For the most pessimistic scenario M3F2 the natural increase, though still projected to be positive, will fall to just 1,800 per annum in the period 2046 - 2051.  This represents a decline of 37,300 (-95.5%) on the average annual natural increase recorded between 2011 - 2016. 

Net migration

During the period 2011-2016, annual net migration was -6,200 (i.e. an average of 6,200 more persons left the country than arrived). This is projected to change to +30,000 on average for scenario M1, an annual average of +20,000 persons for M2 and +10,000 (the most pessimistic scenario) for M3 for the period 2017 - 2051.

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Table 2.4 shows the population results by broad age groups under the various combinations of assumptions for five-year intervals from 2016 - 2051 and also distinguishes the derived young and old dependency ratios as well as the population of school-going age.

Show Table: Table 2.4 Actual and projected population classified by age group and dependency ratio, 2016 - 2051

The young population – Ages 0 - 14

Census 2016 showed that there were 1,005,500 persons aged 0-14 years.  Under the most positive scenario M1F1 the population aged 0 - 14 is projected to decline from 2016 levels to 960,600 persons by 2031.  Post 2031 the average annual numbers of births are projected to rise steadily under the high fertility scenarios, leading to 1,127,600 persons aged 0 - 14 under the high migration high fertility assumption M1F1 by 2051.  This represents an increase of 12.1% over 2016 levels.

Using the medium migration and declining fertility assumption M2F2 the number of persons aged 0-14 is projected to decline to 853,100 in 2036, before rising steadily to 918,200 persons by 2051.  This represents a decrease of 8.7% on 2016 levels.  Finally under the low migration and falling fertility assumption M3F2 the young population would decline by 169,000 persons to 836,500 over the 35 year period.  Figure 2.6 shows the percentage of the population aged 0 - 14 for selected years.                              

X-axis labelM1F1M1F2M2F1M2F2M3F1M3F2
201621.214870453202821.214870453202821.214870453202821.214870453202821.214870453202821.2148704532028
202120.134720158494320.085639521053120.191383728379220.14342374103620.248836738822620.2004048582996
203117.109270638525216.421529012445516.957784805471816.277388499610716.798403952118616.1261899745245
204116.839088833843315.434434219439316.51877133105815.126240640780116.161215248335714.7784792652175
205116.847704283643915.432203520572716.639637759116215.225934831274416.410114016972414.9956079809261

Primary school children – Ages 5 - 12

For the purpose of this projections exercise the “primary” school population is broadly represented by those aged 5-12 years of age.  In 2016 there were 548,100 children in this age group and this number is projected to increase by between 13,900 and 7,400 to 2021, depending on the scenario chosen.  Post 2021 the fall in births since 2010 is expected to impact negatively on the number of primary school children under all combinations of assumptions, before increasing steadily thereafter.  The period and rate of decline is dependent on the assumption chosen.  

Under the most positive migration and fertility assumption M1F1 primary school children will decrease from 548,100 in 2016 to 510,900 by 2031 (-6.8%), before climbing to reach 607,600 by 2051 (10.9% above 2016 levels). The medium migration and declining fertility assumption M2F2 shows the number of primary school children falling to 451,600 by 2036 before recovering to 497,200 by 2051. This is 50,900 children (-9.3%) below 2016 levels.   Under the least optimistic scenario M3F2 the number of primary school children is projected to decline right through to 2041 reaching 422,300 before recovering to 453,900 by 2051. This is 94,200 (17.2%) less than the number recorded for 2016.  Figure 2.7 shows the projected number of primary school pupils for selected years from 2016 - 2051.

M1F1M1F2M2F1M2F2M3F1M3F2
2016548.1548.1548.1548.1548.1548.1
2021562562558.8558.8555.5555.5
2026523.1520514.5511.5506.5503.5
2031510.9492.7492.7475474.7457.6
2036517.4478.9488.2451.6458.9424
2041548.5492.4510457.3471.6422.3
2046584.1521539.8480.9495.8441
2051607.6540.9559.3497.2511.4453.9

Secondary school pupils – Ages 13 - 18

The number of children of “secondary” school age (i.e. persons aged 13-18 years) are projected to increase by between 75,700 and 67,200 over the next decade to 2026, depending on the assumptions used.  This represents increases in the range of 20.5 to 18.2 per cent over the period. The largest increases will be seen between 2021 and 2026 as the projected cohort of primary school children graduate to secondary level.   The number of secondary school children is projected to decline under all scenarios post 2026 to 2051 with declines ranging from 106,900 under M3F2 to 6,000 under M1F1 over the period.  Figure 2.8 shows the projected number of secondary school pupils for selected years from 2016 - 2051.

 

M1F1M1F2M2F1M2F2M3F1M3F2
2016369.9369.9369.9369.9369.9369.9
2021401.9401.9399.8399.8397.7397.7
2026445.6445.6441.4441.4437.2437.2
2031411.2411.2404404397.4397.4
2036396.6389383.2375.7370.6363.3
2041393.6371371.9350.3350.6329.8
2046411.3373.1381.7345.7352.6318.7
2051439.6393.4404.7361.6370.5330.3

Working age population – Ages 15 - 64

The working age population is primarily comprised of those aged 15 - 64.  In 2016 there were 3,104,300 persons in this age category, equating to 65.5% of the total population of 4,739,600.  While the size of this population group will rise under all scenarios by 2051, its relative share of the total population is set to decrease.

The M1F1 scenario projects that while the working age population will increase by 863,800 (27.8%) to 3,968,100 by 2051, its overall share of the population of 6,692,900 will have declined by over 6 percentage points to 59.3%.  The M2F2 scenario shows that the working age population will increase by 445,500 to 3,549,700 by 2051 (14.3%) but its overall share of the population will have declined from 65.5% in 2016 to just under 59% by 2051. Under the M3F2 scenario the working age population is projected to increase by just 109,200 (3.5%) to 3,213,500 persons by 2051.  Its overall share of the population of 5,578,300 will have declined however by nearly 8 percentage points to 57.6%.  Figure 2.9 shows the percentage of the population aged 15 - 64 for selected years from 2016 - 2051.

 

X-axis labelM1F1M1F2M2F1M2F2M3F1M3F2
201665.565.565.565.565.565.5
202165.165.164.96564.864.8
20316565.564.765.264.364.8
204162.263.161.662.56161.9
205159.359.958.358.957.157.6

The older population – Ages 65 and over

The older population (i.e. those aged 65 years and over) is projected to increase very significantly from its 2016 level of 629,800 persons to nearly 1.6 million by 2051 under the more positive M1 and M2 migration assumptions and to nearly 1.53 million under more conservative M3 migration scenario.  See fig 2.10.

The very old population (i.e. those aged 80 years of age and over) is set to rise even more dramatically, increasing from 147,800 in 2016 to 549,000 under M1F1 and 535,900 under M3F2.  See tables 2.5 - 2.10.

 In 2016, the number of persons aged 0-14 (1,005,500) was considerably higher than the number of persons aged 65+ (629,800), but this will reverse by 2031 under all scenarios. The excess will increase steadily towards 2051 at which stage it is projected that there will be between 496,600 and 691,800 more older people than younger people depending on the scenario used.  See tables 2.4 - 2.10.

X-axis labelM1F1M2F1M3F1
2016629.8629.8629.8
2021745743.1741.1
2026871.4867.1863.4
20311006.6999.6993.8
20361146.91136.71127.8
20411297.31282.31268.7
20461463.51440.51418.6
20511597.21562.51528.3

Dependency ratios

The young dependency ratio (the population aged 0 - 14 years expressed as a percentage of the population aged 15 - 64 years) is projected to fall under all assumptions by 2051.  This ratio was 32.4% in 2016 and falls to between 25.8% (M1F2) and 28.8% in 2051 (M3F1).   The young dependency ratio is expected to be at its lowest level in the five year period to 2036.

The older dependency ratio (the population aged 65 years and over expressed as a percentage of the population aged 15 - 64 years) was 20.3% in 2016.  This is projected to increase steadily from 2016 onwards, rising by 3 - 4 percentage points every five years. By 2051 this ratio will be have doubled since 2016 except under M1F1 where it is just less than double and will range between 40.3% for the M1F1 scenario to 47.6% under the M3F2 scenario.

The two ratios combined give the total dependency ratio. In 2016 the total dependency ratio of 52.7% meant that there were roughly 2 people of working age for everyone aged 0-14 and 65+. This ratio is projected to rise under all scenarios to reach values of between 66.9 per cent (M1F2) and 75.2 per cent (M3F1) by 2051.  Therefore in 2051 there will be less than 1.5 persons of working age compared to those aged 0 - 14 and 65+. See table 2.4.

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The changing population structure is best illustrated by comparing the breakdown of the population by age and gender at five-year intervals between 2016 and 2051, see tables 2.5 – 2.10 and the selected population pyramids.  The pyramids highlight the broadening of the population by 2051, in particular the increases in the number of persons aged 50 years and over. In the M1F1 scenario all age groups are projected to increase by 2051.  While under M3F2 the projected decline in fertility coupled with low levels of net inward migration shows a shrinking population in in the younger age groups but increases for all age groups 40 years and over.  The medium migration declining fertility scenario M2F2 shows a fall in those aged 0-20 years by 2051 with increases projected for all other age groups.

FemalesMales
99+615-155
98356-93
97540-190
96884-317
951161-387
941538-523
931981-746
922451-963
913049-1321
903695-1667
894286-2116
884808-2557
875594-3163
866340-3951
857055-4831
847655-5364
838225-6166
829219-7018
819917-7788
8010517-8596
7911043-9289
7811424-9872
7712308-10770
7612799-11594
7513086-11993
7413724-13088
7315377-14391
7216220-15668
7117327-16763
7018904-18440
6919579-19412
6820416-20365
6721005-20756
6621816-21091
6521716-21813
6422274-22202
6323580-23353
6223430-23286
6124596-24265
6024843-24641
5925408-25299
5826276-25705
5727042-27007
5627655-26932
5528721-28168
5428504-28184
5329711-28894
5230370-29537
5131129-30347
5031065-30708
4930834-30718
4831477-31268
4731555-31916
4633508-33421
4535070-35150
4434948-34480
4335654-35360
4235777-35233
4136153-35642
4036770-36457
3936696-35867
3837677-36695
3739503-37405
3642124-40830
3541508-39760
3440232-37282
3339531-35835
3237357-34141
3135337-32669
3035345-32573
2932561-29904
2830813-28367
2731279-30254
2628480-27753
2528370-28898
2427472-27330
2326612-27508
2226753-27423
2126827-27635
2027417-28488
1927997-29270
1829677-31285
1729580-31385
1629742-31172
1529862-31262
1430728-31883
1331113-32256
1231385-32826
1130936-33028
1031580-33121
932619-34285
835039-36419
735264-36802
635426-37037
535543-36816
434610-36224
333294-34826
232264-33996
131163-32792
030355-31854
Show Table: Table 2.5 Actual and projected population classified by sex and age group, 2016 - 2051 (M1F1)

FemalesMales
99+4483-2237
982698-1568
973658-2254
964993-3202
956298-4230
947776-5443
939423-6706
9211072-8257
9112652-9454
9014450-11128
8915630-12406
8817560-14002
8719166-15571
8620815-17250
8521885-18680
8422745-19834
8324143-21293
8225044-22739
8127337-24723
8029348-26889
7929948-27249
7831185-28723
7731912-29396
7632824-30437
7533931-31860
7434492-32118
7335917-33479
7238168-34799
7141176-38578
7041250-38404
6940646-36863
6840534-36219
6738853-35121
6637319-34271
6537792-34732
6435708-32976
6334572-32010
6235710-34447
6133766-32757
6034578-34736
5934696-34066
5834889-35197
5735856-35852
5636756-36726
5537738-37857
5438454-38666
5340556-41045
5240776-41475
5141040-41380
5041217-41552
4942118-42260
4842620-42779
4742971-43454
4642577-43746
4543262-43957
4444335-45210
4346843-47480
4247206-48055
4147447-48441
4047685-48344
3946796-47876
3845342-46326
3744143-45253
3642880-43746
3541670-42321
3441944-42705
3341228-41928
3240940-41577
3140595-41131
3039999-40469
2939336-39657
2838791-39207
2738151-38632
2637489-38093
2536770-37438
2435984-36857
2335266-36262
2234876-36021
2134469-35829
2034540-36051
1934834-36491
1834927-36662
1735164-36955
1635549-37383
1535917-37785
1436250-38130
1336506-38391
1236739-38624
1136964-38847
1037134-38995
937268-39106
837312-39124
737210-38991
637061-38820
536838-38570
436545-38224
336424-38147
236180-37976
135901-37776
035794-37707
Show Table: Table 2.6 Actual and projected population classified by sex and age group, 2016 - 2051 (M1F2)

Show Table: Table 2.7 Actual and projected population classified by sex and age group, 2016 - 2051 (M2F1)

Show Table: Table 2.8 Actual and projected population classified by sex and age group, 2016 - 2051 (M2F2)

FemalesMales
99+4431-2208
982666-1547
973614-2223
964933-3160
956225-4174
947683-5369
939310-6612
9210938-8148
9112498-9323
9014280-10975
8915442-12229
8817347-13803
8718937-15348
8620567-17003
8521615-18409
8422453-19542
8323832-20974
8224717-22396
8126989-24356
8028974-26498
7929559-26826
7830750-28243
7731423-28852
7632283-29832
7533320-31165
7433807-31336
7335166-32619
7237339-33845
7140269-37531
7040256-37261
6939574-35624
6839381-34877
6737630-33700
6636016-32753
6536406-33110
6434213-31233
6332880-30059
6233807-32290
6131656-30389
6032249-32135
5932137-31222
5832046-32092
5732767-32522
5633438-33181
5534241-34145
5434809-34817
5336833-37128
5236985-37500
5137205-37373
5037354-37520
4938245-38222
4838737-38738
4739083-39419
4638680-39715
4539356-39913
4440417-41169
4342947-43474
4243319-44069
4143586-44489
4043846-44427
3942986-44006
3841560-42495
3740393-41468
3639163-40011
3538011-38664
3438337-39107
3337600-38311
3237006-37653
3136379-36926
3035517-36000
2934616-34958
2833906-34340
2733126-33606
2632324-32908
2531464-32107
2430554-31372
2329766-30656
2229264-30258
2128739-29906
2028633-29911
1928705-30096
1828742-30201
1728912-30417
1629220-30758
1529520-31086
1429796-31370
1329992-31567
1230175-31746
1130346-31907
1030468-31998
930548-32056
830548-32026
730407-31857
630218-31638
529955-31344
429619-30948
329440-30803
229143-30564
128793-30281
028575-30094
Show Table: Table 2.9 Actual and projected population classified by sex and age group, 2016 - 2051 (M3F1)

Show Table: Table 2.10 Actual and projected population classified by sex and age group, 2016 - 2051 (M3F2)

FemalesMales
99+4399-2196
982646-1537
973584-2208
964895-3139
956173-4143
947620-5330
939234-6560
9210846-8082
9112390-9242
9014151-10875
8915295-12113
8817183-13663
8718750-15183
8620357-16816
8521384-18194
8422200-19301
8323553-20703
8224414-22092
8126664-24019
8028621-26119
7929174-26419
7830316-27774
7730941-28318
7631741-29222
7532717-30477
7433133-30553
7334418-31741
7236509-32867
7139350-36439
7039247-36048
6938469-34298
6838181-33433
6736361-32154
6634664-31108
6534961-31350
6432678-29344
6331153-27986
6231884-30016
6129525-27907
6029898-29428
5929570-28296
5829195-28908
5729673-29113
5630119-29556
5530738-30340
5431171-30875
5333130-33119
5233249-33439
5133446-33280
5033570-33396
4934429-34062
4834903-34554
4735228-35212
4634807-35494
4535476-35698
4436529-36952
4339092-39302
4239487-39948
4139786-40422
4040077-40425
3939251-40056
3837862-38614
3736728-37651
3635538-36255
3534447-34980
3434821-35506
3334064-34696
3233442-34014
3132780-33248
3031876-32289
2930934-31204
2830319-30694
2729631-30053
2628918-29451
2528143-28744
2427308-28112
2326696-27539
2226348-27282
2125969-27070
2026009-27213
1926209-27528
1826214-27595
1726359-27786
1626650-28107
1526943-28423
1427218-28703
1327400-28879
1227568-29038
1127729-29183
1027842-29255
927913-29293
827902-29249
727752-29059
627549-28822
527266-28501
426911-28075
326741-27937
226446-27708
126092-27424
025862-27225

While this report contains a number of summary tables, detailed results of the population projections from 2017 to 2051 are available on the CSO Statbank here.

Go to: Labour Force Projections Results