New data published on Thursday reveal that, since Ireland’s financial crisis began in 2008, 397,500 people have emigrated and only 277,400 people have moved into the country, resulting in a net out-migration of 120,100.
Most have moved to the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada to find jobs, the Financial Times reported.
More than a third of the leavers were 24 years old or younger. “Emigration is a reflex action for Irish people in times of crisis,” Niamh Hourigan, doctor of sociology at University College Cork, told the Financial Times. “The hope is that many of these young people can come back with new skills when the economy eventually recovers.”
European youth unemployment is at its highest in Spain, which has reached a new peak of 56.1 percent, and Greece, currently at 62.9 percent. (For comparison, the youth unemployment rate is 7.4 percent in the US and 3.8 percent in Japan.)
It’s no surprise, then, that UK National Insurance figures for the year to March show a 50 percent increase in the number of Spanish workers who’ve registered for employment in the UK. New Greek workers have increased by 44 percent and new Portuguese workers are up by 43 percent.
At the same time, the UK is seeing a slowdown in immigrants from Africa, India and Pakistan.