Northern Ireland news

Analysis: Ageing population means policy makers must rethink immigration

The ONS has confirmed there are now more job vacancies than unemployed people in the UK

THE 2021 Census shows Northern Ireland is little different from other parts of Europe.

As a population, we are getting older.

Within four years there will be more people in the 65+ bracket than in the under-15 category.

Such statistics explain why the state pension age is rising.

Based on the latest census data, we can probably expect the government to continue the trend of raising the pension barrier in the long-term.

The reason behind the trend, as in elsewhere in Europe, is fairly simple.

Birth rates are in decline and people are living longer.

The 2021 Census shows the ‘baby boomer’ generation born in the 1950s and 1960s effectively creating a ‘pensioner boom’ in the early 21st century.

Compared to the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland’s population is actually relatively young.

Children (0-14) represent 19.2 per cent of the population here, compared to 15.6 per cent in Scotland, 16.4 per cent in Wales and 17.9 per cent in England.

All three countries in Britain have a higher proportion of people aged 65+.

In the Republic, which has undergone a significant increase in its migrant population in the past two decades, the make-up is younger again.

Last week the UK’s Office of National Statistics revealed there were more job vacancies than unemployed people in the UK for the first time since records began.

Studies in Britain have linked the pro-Brexit vote in 2016 to xenophobia and fears over immigration.

The over 65s were more than twice as likely as under-25s to have voted to Leave the EU.

The current population trends suggest those older Brexiteers will soon need an influx of migrants to support the economy and in turn pay for their healthcare and pensions.

It all points to an immigration policy by the Conservative-led government, that has at best been short-sighted and at worst, economically self-destructive.

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