Thursday 12 June 2014

Irish and Northern Irish census 2011: highlights

Okay, it's nothing to do with our ancestors or finding them, but a special census report published today entitled Census 2011 Ireland and Northern Ireland will be of interest to some researchers. It allows us an interesting analysis of the lifestyles of the populations of both jurisdictions at a single point in time (the two censuses were taken just two-weeks apart).

The report, which looked at a range of topics in areas such as demographics, households, place of birth, religion, health, housing and travel, has brought together statistical services teams on both sides of the border – the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in Dublin and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) in Belfast.

Here are some of the highlights:

The total population of the island of Ireland in 2011 stood at 6.4million. This was made up of 4.6million persons in Ireland (72%) and 1.8m in Northern Ireland (28%). Since 2002, the population in Ireland has grown by 17%, two and a half times the rate of growth in Northern Ireland of 6.9%. While the overall population density for the island as a whole stood at 78 persons per square kilometre, the population density of Northern Ireland was 134 persons per square kilometre – double that of Ireland at 67.

In Ireland, the median age of the population was 34, the lowest of any EU Member State. The median age in Northern Ireland, while 3 years higher at 37, was also considerably lower than the EU average of 41. Reflecting the older age structure, persons aged 65 and over made up 15 per cent of Northern Ireland’s population, compared with 12 per cent of that of Ireland. Data on this and a range of other statistics are presented in thematic maps in the report to illustrate the differences in the populations in different geographic areas across the island.

Marriage and divorce
Northern Ireland has seen an increase of 20% in the number of single people since the 2001 census, nearly double that of population growth among all persons aged 15 and over (11%), while in Ireland the increase in single people since the 2002 census, at 15%, has been lower than population growth (17%).

In 2011, there were 56,900 separated and 78,000 divorced persons in Northern Ireland, representing 9.3% of those aged 15 and over, while the comparable figures for Ireland were 87,800 persons divorced and 116,200 separated, which together accounted for 5.7%.

The dominant type of households in both jurisdictions comprised married couples with children (of any age), accounting for 32% of households in Ireland and 28% of those in Northern Ireland. Cohabiting couples were more prevalent in Ireland, accounting for 7.7 % of households, compared with 5.5% of those in Northern Ireland.


Catholics represented 41% of the population of Northern Ireland, while Protestants and other Christian denominations accounted for 42%, with the remainder made up mainly of those with no religion (10%) or not stated (6.8%). In Ireland, the Catholic religion dominated, with 84% of the population, while those with no religion made up 5.9%.

Place of birth
In Northern Ireland, 202,000 people, representing 11% of usual residents, were born outside the jurisdiction; 37,900 were born in Ireland, representing almost 1 in 5 of the total. In Ireland, in contrast, the 58,500 people born in Northern Ireland accounted for around 8% of the total 766,800 persons born outside Ireland, who in turn represented 17% of the population.

The Wholesale and Retail sector employed the highest proportion of persons of all sectors in both Northern Ireland and Ireland, although rates in Northern Ireland (18 per cent) exceeded those in Ireland (15 per cent). Human health and social work was the second most important sector, with 14 per cent of persons in Northern Ireland and 11 per cent in Ireland, followed by manufacturing, which accounted for 10 and 11 per cent respectively.

Terraced housing accounted for 25 per cent of dwellings in Northern Ireland, compared with 17 per cent in Ireland, while the most striking difference between both jurisdictions was for non-private or social rented accommodation, which accounted for 15 per cent of dwellings in Northern Ireland, compared with 8.7 per cent in Ireland. The vacancy rate in Ireland was 15 per cent, compared with 6.0 per cent in Northern Ireland.

For the first time, in the 2011 censuses, the place of work or study for persons who travelled from Ireland to Northern Ireland or from Northern Ireland to Ireland was coded to fine geographic level. The results show that a total of 14,800 persons regularly commuted between the two jurisdictions for work or study, with 6,500 travelling to Ireland from Northern Ireland and 8,300 travelling in the other direction.

The report is available online via CSO and NISRA, and in hard-back from both organisations.