Long-term International Migration Statistics for Northern Ireland (2016)

Date published: 31 August 2017

The Long-term International Migration Statistics for Northern Ireland (2016) were published on 31 August 2017. As part of its annual publication of Mid-year Population Estimates, NISRA produces official migration estimates for Northern Ireland which reflect the estimated flows of people to and from Northern Ireland from 1 July to 30 June each year. The latest of these estimates were released in June 2017 and relate to the period mid-2015 to mid-2016. This release provides a contextual summary of the most recent Population and Migration Estimates for Northern Ireland, with specific focus on the international migration element of those statistics, and also supplements the official migration estimates by collating and reporting on a number of administrative statistics that provide some insight into recent changes/trends in international migration to/from Northern Ireland.

The key findings are:

People who came here to live

  • In the year ending mid-2016, 23,800 people came here to live (1.0 per cent more than in year ending mid-2015). More than half (13,000; 54.6 per cent) of the people concerned were from outside the UK (i.e. an international immigrant), while the remainder (10,800; 45.4 per cent) were from the rest of the UK.
  • The number of people who came here to live from outside the UK fell by 0.7 per cent (100 people) between mid-2015 and mid-2016. In the same period, the number of people arriving to live in Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK increased by 300 people (3.2 per cent).
  • The vast majority of inflows were aged 16 to 39 (61.4 per cent of inflows from the rest of the UK; 64.3 per cent of international inflows; and 63.0 per cent of total inflows).
  • In the calendar year to December 2016, the top three most common countries of previous residence for international inflows to Northern Ireland were Poland, the Republic of Ireland and Romania. The most common reasons for international immigrants moving here were work (40.5 per cent), followed by family (25.6 per cent) and education (14.5 per cent).

People who left here to live elsewhere

  • In the year ending mid-2016, the number of people leaving Northern Ireland to live elsewhere (22,300) increased by 3.8 per cent from the year ending mid-2015. Some 51.6 per cent of the people concerned (11,500 people) went to live outside the UK while the remainder (48.4 per cent; 10,800) moved to the rest of the UK.
  • Between mid-2015 and mid-2016 the number of people who left to live outside the UK increased by 12.1 per cent to 11,500 people.
  • The number of people who left to live in the rest of the UK fell by 3.8 per cent between mid-2015 and mid-2016 to reach 10,800 people - the lowest level since the year ending mid-2009.
  • As was the case with inflows, the vast majority of outflows were aged 16 to 39 years (75.0 per cent of outflows to the rest of the UK; 68.9 per cent of international outflows; and 71.8 per cent of total outflows).

Net Migration

  • As the number of people who moved here to live in the year ending mid-2016 exceeded the number who left (23,800 and 22,300 respectively), this resulted in net inward migration of 1,500 people. Given the position of net zero UK migration (10,800 inflows and 10,800 outflows), this population increase of 1,500 people due to migration can be entirely attributed to net inward international migration (i.e. 13,000 inflows and 11,500 outflows). This is the third successive year that there has been a net inward migration of people to Northern Ireland.
  • Six out of the 11 Local Government Districts (LGDs) experienced net inward international migration in the year ending mid-2016 while the remaining five LGDs experienced a net outflow of international migrants. Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon LGD had the highest level (900 people) of net inward international migration while Belfast LGD had the highest level of net outward international migration (600 people).
  • Four of the 11 LGDs experienced net outward migration to the UK with Derry & Strabane and Lisburn & Castlereagh LGDs experiencing the most at 100 people each. All the other LGDs experienced net inward migration from the UK with Mid Ulster LGD experiencing the highest (100 people).

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