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Since 2016, the population of Ireland grew by 7.6% while housing grew by only 6%, deepening the housing crisis

Ireland’s population reaches its highest point since the Potato Famine

Ireland’s population reaches its highest point since the Potato Famine

Despite the good news, preliminary data from the national census reveals a dire shortage in the housing market that will not go away anytime soon

Ireland’s population is on the rise and has been for some time now, as the preliminary results of the national census, published on 23 June, showed. According to the data, the population of the republic has grown by 7.6% since 2016, reaching 5.1 million - its highest point since 1841.

At the same time, Ireland is still deep in a housing crisis with no clear end in sight, as the census showed the housing stock rose by just 6% in the same period, widening the gap in the that market.

The Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Micheál Martin, welcomed the news of population growth stressing the need for the government to complete the Housing for All plan, which aims to build hundreds of thousands of homes by 2030.

Population numbers are recovering from the Great Famine

The year 1841 was quite important to Ireland as it marks the point when the country recorded its largest ever population – 6,5 million people. However, just a few years later, in 1845, the island was hit by massive potato crop failures that caused the so-called Potato Famine.

Through widespread mismanagement of the situation caused by the British Government, by 1851 when the situation was finally under control, Ireland had lost more than 20% of its population. Poverty and migration continued to contribute to the decline until the 1960s and with small fluctuations, Ireland lost around 5.5% of its populace every 10 years.

By the 1961 census, the population reached a low of 2.8 million and has consistently been recovering by double-digit numbers almost every decade since. Now, after 171 years, the numbers have recovered to where they stood just after the famine struck.

More people, less housing

According to the census, the population increased by 360,000 people in the last six years, with 170,000 coming from natural birth to death rates and the other 190,000 coming from migration. The census also puts the population at 2,593,600 females and 2,529,936 males.

However, the country’s available housing stock was calculated at 2,124,590 units, excluding vacation homes, which account for an additional 66,135 units, revealing a significant disparity between demand and supply.

This is where the Housing for All plan comes into question, as the government has vowed to build around 300,000 affordable homes by 2030, which seems to be a move that is a bit too little and a bit too late. All in all, that means that despite the good news for Ireland’s population, under the current policies, the housing crisis will continue to be a major challenging factor for residents of the Emerald Isle.

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