Monday 21 January 2019

It's not only the jobless who are rushing to get out of here, many more have also had enough

How far we have fallen. The collapse of the economy of the past three years has heralded the return of emigration as the economic pressure valve of the Irish, and in particular, the young.

Just three years ago, Millward Brown Lansdowne published the results of an opinion poll where we posed the question if it was a good idea to give up a secure job to go travelling for a year.

In those halcyon days, the results were reflective of where we were, and how we saw ourselves.


Nevertheless, they cast a shadow on how far we have fallen.

In that national poll, exactly half felt that it was a good idea to give up secure employment to travel -- Dubliners were marginally more likely to agree (53pc), while among the young, seven in 10 (69pc) felt the same.

Note the subtext -- this was a voluntary departure, and not enforced.

Travel was an adventure, and there was a sense of entitlement to do so, particularly among the young.

After all, jobs were perceived to be plentiful or, more importantly, the promise of jobs in the future was ensured.

That sense of entitlement (to employment) is also striking.


Fast forward just three years, and the results of our latest opinion poll, conducted among Dubliners last week, show how times have changed, and how far we have fallen.

Nearly one in 10 (9pc) intend to emigrate over the next 12 months.

More ominously, nearly one quarter (23pc) of young Dubliners (18-24-year-olds) intend to do so.

While travel or a sense of adventure may well be behind the motivations of some of the young in particular, economic concerns are a more pressing influencer for most.

It is not, however, the domain solely of the youngest group -- one in six 25-34-year-olds are also intending to emigrate. Those who, arguably, should be setting down roots, and settling down, are also on the move.

For this cohort more than any, one wonders if they will return.

Social class is no discriminator -- the white collar ABC1s are just as likely to be contemplating emigration as the blue collar C2DEs.

The days of the recession being confined to such industries as construction are truly over -- the contagion is widespread.

Curiously, the results of the Herald poll this week cast light on another phenomenon -- while those currently unemployed are more likely to intend emigrating (15pc of them versus the 9pc overall), it is not just this group exclusively -- one in 10 employees, and one in eight self-employed are also considering leaving.

It suggests disillusionment even among those in employment, or perhaps a fear for the future.

The effect of emigration is not just about the individual, but also the family or household.


One in five Dublin households believe they will be affected by emigration within 12 months.

Unsurprisingly, this effect is broader across the age groups (even 10pc of those aged 65 feel they will be affected).

It truly is an issue that, while directly affecting some more than others, spans the generational divide.

Paul Moran is a research project manager with Millward Brown Lansdowne

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