Generally low levels of residential segregation of migrants in Ireland

Minister David Stanton at an event in the ESRI called Migrant integration: policy and place 26 June 2019

Emma Quinn (EMN Ireland and ESRI), Helen Russell (ESRI),  Úna Ní Dhubhghaill (Principal Officer, Department of Justice and Equality), David Stanton (Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration), Frances McGinnity (ESRI) and Éamonn Fahey (ESRI) at an event on 26 June 2019 to launch two new research reports examining migrant integration in Ireland. 

A video outlining key findings from the research is available at the end of this page. 

Relative to the Irish population, migrants are fairly evenly distributed across neighbourhoods in Ireland, according to new ESRI research published today as part of a research programme with the Department of Justice and Equality.

This is positive, as migrant integration is more challenging in places where migrants are segregated from the host population. The study examines where in Ireland migrants live, how segregated they are from the Irish-born population and the types of areas they live in. The analysis is carried out for all migrants, and then separately for EU migrants, non-EU migrants, and people with poor English language proficiency.

Migrants in Ireland have a relatively low level of residential segregation when compared to other West European countries and the United States. However, migrants with poor English language proficiency are concentrated in a smaller number of places, with a particularly high concentration in Limerick city. 

The study uses spatial data from the 2011 and 2016 Censuses and finds that levels of residential segregation remained relatively stable over this period. However, there is some evidence of decreasing segregation among EU migrants and people with poor English language skills.

What types of areas do migrants live in?

The report also examines the characteristics of the areas in which migrants live in their greatest concentrations. Consistent with previous research, it concludes that migrants tend to live in urban areas - around half live in Dublin, Cork and Limerick - and in areas where there is a plentiful supply of private rented accommodation. On average, EU and non-EU migrants live in areas with high levels of third-level education. This is partly because a disproportionate share of migrants live in cities, where a greater proportion of the population has degree-level education. However, non-EU migrants tend to live in areas of above-average unemployment and those who lack English language skills are less likely to live in areas with a high prevalence of graduates.

Policy implications

The relatively even distribution of migrants around Ireland is a positive finding from an integration perspective, but some secondary findings may cause concern. The concentration of migrants in the private rented sector means that they are particularly exposed to the current problems of affordability and security of tenure in this sector of the housing market.

The findings of this report also speak to recent work on regional development policy in Ireland. Although migrants are relatively evenly spread across neighbourhoods, they are nonetheless more centralised in urban areas than the Irish born population. Achieving a more balanced regional development of employment opportunities and housing would be an effective way of further dispersing the migrant population across the country.

Professor Helen Russell, one of the report authors, stated: “From an integration perspective it is reassuring that migrants are not concentrated in areas of disadvantage and are relatively evenly spread across communities. That said, pockets of concentration of groups with additional language needs in some locations may create challenges for local service delivery and these Census data can be used to target resources needed.”

Launching the report Minister David Stanton TD, Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration said: “It is encouraging to discover that migrants in Ireland are not strongly segregated from the rest of our community, since we know that segregation can cause problems. Nevertheless, the evidence points to some specific areas and issues where targeted approaches to integration may be necessary. Within the framework of our National Migrant Integration Strategy, my Department is working with the Department of Rural and Community Development and Local Authorities to develop such approaches. Research evidence like this will support this work and is therefore of great benefit to both central and local policymakers.”


Key findings from the study are outlined in the video below.