A third of young adults have left Ireland in the last seven years, making it the country with the highest level of emigration in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Figures from the OECD and the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reveal the impact the recent emigration has had on Ireland.
CSO figures reveal that emigration has seen a 37% drop in the number of people aged 20-24 in the last seven years. There are also 27.5% fewer 25-29 year olds, according to the CSO.
In the last 12 months, 89,000 people of all nationalities left Ireland. This included 35,300 Irish nationals.
Meanwhile, OECD figures show that one in six Irish people aged 15 and over are currently living and working abroad. This is the highest proportion of emigrants of any county within its membership.
The OECD consists of 34 countries including Ireland, the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, and much of Europe and the Americas.
With a huge 17.5% of its population aged 15 or over living abroad, Ireland had by far the highest proportion of emigration in 2014.
Ireland was followed by Portugal and New Zealand (14%) and then Mexico, Iceland and Luxemburg with around 12% living abroad.
The OECD report said that the surge in emigration was due to the recession. It said the: “resulting population outflow has been large, both by international and Irish historical standards”.
It said that the reason for the high levels of emigration are high unemployment, poor career prospects and low salaries compared to other advanced economies.
This is backed up by figures from the Central Bank of Ireland which show that the average salary for recent graduates in Ireland fell about 12 per cent between 2007 and 2014.
A recruitment embargo in the public sector has had a significant influence on the levels of emigration. Around 20% of emigrants find work in health and social work sectors in their new countries. Many more find work in education.
The OECD report predicted that Ireland would continue to experience negative migration in 2016, with around 12,000 more people leaving the country than arriving.
The report said that returning emigrants could significantly improve the Irish economy by bringing much needed skills to the workforce.
However, the government need to provide the right environment to convince them to return. This would include ensuring the availability of affordable housing and childcare, and a higher standard of education and healthcare provision, according to the Irish Times.
The OECD also stated that the government should consider tax incentives such as deductions for relocation and travel expenses.
As well as having such a high proportion of emigrants, Ireland is also one of the only countries in Europe not to allow its overseas citizens a vote in general elections.
The OECD suggested that Ireland should improve its political representation for emigrants. It argued that this would reinforce emigrants’ attachment to Ireland and make a positive contribution to their wellbeing.