Housing and the Changing Demographics of Ireland

In order to solve the housing crisis, policy makers must consider changing demographics and plan for long term methods to resolve the housing crisis. According to Engineer’s Ireland review of housing in the The state of Ireland 2019, projections of future Irish population is increasing in number, age and diversity. The population is expected to grow from 2.78 people in 2017 to between 5.6 to 6.7 million people in 2051. The median forecast was defined as approximately 6.2 million people. An additional 1.48 million people must be housed in the next 32 years.

Future demographic projections are essential in forming adequate long term planning in regard to housing in Ireland. Due to the significant projected increase in population size, there is great demand to increase housing supply and plan accordingly.  The current average size of an Irish household is 2.7 people per home. If the average household size remains the same, the number of homes supplied must amount to at least 548,148 additional units by 2051. This amounts to an average of 15,661 additional housing units must supplied each year to keep up with growing demand.

If the average household size of Ireland were to decrease to the EU average of 2.3 persons per household then another 95,330 units would be needed or another 2,773 units per year. This number totals to make an additional average of 18,384 units per year.

The population projection may be an under projection. The NPF may have underestimated the number of immigrants. The projections of the NPF have estimated inward migration of 8,000 per year until 2021. After 2021, the NPF estimated immigration will rise to 12,500 per year. These figures contrast with the CSO’s projections of estimating net migration surplus of 19,800 in 2017. Actual figures have determined that net inward migration in 2018 amounted to 33,900.

The composition of the population also must be heavily considered while creating long term plans. The population of Ireland is aging. According to Engineer’s Ireland housing report, the approximate population is 66% of Irelands population. This percentage is expected to decrease to only 55% in 2051. This trend is due to the bulge of 30-35 years aging and living into a late middle age. This suggests that a greater number will be living alone and thus reduce the average household size. Furthermore an aging population must be accommodated by proper services.

Ultimately, it is essential to consider demographic trends of the future in order to adequately plan for the future. The planning horizon should be extended to 50 year term. Planning for the next 50 years should include a comprehensive spatial plan for housing, infrastructure and service development.

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