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Census 2011 figures show the number of non-Irish nationals living in Ireland increased by 143 per cent to more than half a million between 2002 and 2011

Date Published: 05-10-2012


In April 2011, there were 544,357 non-Irish nationals (12 per cent of the resident population) from 199 different nations living in Ireland.

Polish nationals were the largest nationality grouping. This group showed a 93.7% increase from 63,276 persons in 2006 to 122,585 in 2011. UK nationals were the second largest group with 112,259 living in Ireland in 2011. A small number of nationalities recorded a decrease between 2006 and 2011, most notably US and Australian nationals.

The gender breakdown of non-Irish nationals enumerated in April 2011 was even. 60 per cent were in the 22-44 year age group, compared with 32 per cent for Irish nationals.

Labour force

  • Almost 58 per cent of non-Irish nationals aged 15 and over were at work compared to 49 per cent of Irish nationals.
  • Just over 11 per cent of Irish nationals are unemployed compared to almost 17 per cent of non-Irish nationals.
  • A higher proportion of Irish nationals than non-Irish nationals are students, looking after family or at home, retired or unable to work.
  • There were 268,180 non-Irish nationals at work in Ireland (15.1 per cent of total workforce) in April 2011. Polish and UK nationals accounted for 116,375 workers or 43.4 per cent of all non-Irish workers.

Top five non-Irish nationalities at work in Ireland:

  • Polish (69,473)
  • UK (46,902)
  • Lithuanian (19,753)
  • Latvian (10,782)
  • Indian (8,397)

Socio Economic Group

  • 16 per cent of non-Irish nationals fell into the top two socio-economic groups (Employers and Managers/Higher Professional) compared with 23 per cent of Irish nationals.
  • Almost 27 per cent of non-Irish nationals fell into Manual-Skilled/Semi and Unskilled groups compared with 19 per cent of Irish nationals.


There were 49,915 non-Irish students and pupils over the age of 15 living in Ireland in 2011. The largest nationality groups were:

  • UK (8,277)
  • Polish (4,586)
  • Chinese (3,533) and
  • Nigerian (2,860)


  • Of the Irish population who stated that they had finished their education 27.1 per cent held a third level degree or higher. This compares with 31.3 per cent of non-Irish nationals who professed to be finished their education.
  • Of those non-Irish nationals resident in Ireland who had finished their education, Indian nationals had the highest percentage of persons with a third level degree or higher (77.3%) followed by Filipinos (64.5%) and US nationals (55.9%). Nationals from Latvia (10.9%), Lithuania (15.5%) and Romania (17.1%) had below average rates.

Recent Immigration

  • Of the 53,267 people who arrived in Ireland in the year prior to April 2011, 33,340 were non-Irish nationals (62.5 per cent) with 4,112 coming from Poland and 4,072 from the UK. Over two thirds of this non-Irish group were between the ages of 15 and 34 and almost 60 per cent were single.


  • Almost 90 per cent of Irish nationals identified themselves as Roman Catholic compared to 52 per cent of non-Irish nationals.


  • Overall almost 74 per cent of non-Irish nationals identified themselves as of white ethnicity; 7 per cent of black and 12 per cent of Asian ethnicity.
  • Almost 40 per cent of people of Black ethnicity were Irish nationals.

For more information:

Analysis of detailed nationality groups by socio economic class, economic status, religion and ethnic group can be found in our Useful Statistics section.

See CSO Press Release 

View Census 2011 Profile 6 Migration and Diversity - A profile of diversity in Ireland

Read ESRI Research Note 2012/2/3: The Impact of Recession on Migration: A Preliminary Analysis of Census 2011, Pete Lunn

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