How many Irish people live abroad? A GlobalIrish.ie factsheet
Estimating the size of the Irish community abroad is difficult. There are an estimated one million Irish-born people living abroad today; the number has been declining in recent years as outgoing migration as slowed and return migration increased.
Where do the Irish-born live?
Accurate figures are not always easy to come by. The following statistics are compiled from a number of national censuses, and refer to those born in the Republic of Ireland, unless stated otherwise.
- Just under 500,000 lived in Britain in 2001. (See BBC News)
- 156,000 in the US in 2000. (See US Census figures)
- About 50,000 in Australia, with 21,000 from Northern Ireland. (2006 Census)
- 22,800 in Canada (2001 Census)
European statistics are more difficult to find. Statistics compiled for the Harvey Report in the 1990s show:
- France 16,000
- Germany 16,000
- Belgium 10,000
- Spain 8,000
- Netherlands 4,040
- Italy 2,000
- Sweden 1,200
- Denmark 1,020
- Luxembourg 1,000
- Austria 600
- Greece 600
- Portugal 250
- Finland 144
How large is the diaspora?
There are an estimated 3 million Irish passport holders – many of these would be second- or third-generation Irish people. The total number in the diaspora, however, is much larger, but more difficult to estimate. While the census process in some nations allow people to specify where their ancestors came from, this can be contentious; controversy over the ‘ethnic question’ may call results into question.
The total number has been put at 70 million by some sources. The following figures are census statistics from the nations with the highest numbers.
- United States: 34.7 million reported Irish ancestry, according to the 2000 US Census statistic. 6 million reported Scotch-Irish ancestry.
- Britain: Figures on the Irish diasporic community in Britain vary widely, from an estimate of 5 million with an Irish parent or grandparent (10% of the British population) in the 1991 census, to a total of 14 million (24% of the British population) in a 2001 study. 1.2% of people in England and Wales reported themselves to be of Irish ancestry in the 2001 census, although the ethnic question was highly contentious.
- Canada: 3.48 million in the 2006 census (13% of the population).
- Australia: 1.8 million reported Irish ancestry (2006 census) (9.1% of the population)
- Argentina: About 350,000-500,000 Irish descendants are reported.
For more information, visit the websites listed above and
Irish Emigrants and Irish Communities Abroad: A study of existing sources of information and analysis for the Task Force on Policy regarding Emigrants.