New research monitors the integration of immigrants into Irish society

Mr David Stanton, TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration & Integration, will launch a new report titled Monitoring Report on Integration 2016, published jointly by the ESRI and the Department of Justice and Equality. The report presents a range of findings, including that a significant proportion of immigrants in Ireland are now Irish citizens, income poverty is higher among non-Irish groups than Irish, and employment rates are lower among African nationals than any other nationality grouping. The report uses indicators to measure different aspects of immigrant inclusion in Irish society, using the most recently available data.

Key Findings


  • The total number of naturalisation certificates issued to non-Irish nationals in 2015 was 13,500, 46 per cent lower than the 2012 peak, when 25,100 certificates were issued.
  • Between 2005, when records began, and end-2015, a total of over 121,100 non-Irish nationals acquired Irish citizenship through naturalisation.
  • It is estimated that up to 45 per cent of the estimated adult immigrant population of non-EU origin who were resident in Ireland at end-2015 had acquired Irish citizenship.

Employment and Unemployment

  • In 2015, employment rates were similar but slightly higher for Irish nationals (63 per cent) than non-Irish nationals (60 per cent). However employment rates varied across national groups and the employment rate was very low for African nationals (circa 40 per cent).
  • In 2015, the unemployment rate was higher for non-Irish nationals (13 per cent) compared to Irish nationals (just under 10 per cent).


  • Data from the National Assessment Tests at primary level show lower reading scores among immigrants from non-English speaking backgrounds than their Irish peers at both second and sixth class.
  • The difference between mathematics test scores between immigrant students and Irish students is only statistically significant for second class students.

Poverty and Deprivation

  • In 2014, 21 per cent of non-Irish nationals were living below the income poverty line, drawn at 60 per cent of median household income, compared to 16 per cent of Irish nationals.
  • However, basic deprivation rates (enforced lack of  two or more items relating to food, clothing, heating and family/social life) were similar for Irish and non-Irish, as was consistent poverty (being in income poverty and experiencing basic deprivation).
  • Income poverty rates were particularly high for the non-EU group in 2014 (46 per cent), and have increased in recent years. Some of this increase may be due to the high and increasing proportion of students in the non-EU population, as well as rising in-work poverty among this group. Deprivation rates do not differ significantly between non-EU nationals and Irish nationals.

Special Theme in the 2016 Report: Immigrant Skills and Competencies

Each Monitoring Report on Integration includes a special focus on a specific issue. The 2016 report focused on original analysis of the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC).  It compares the skills of immigrants in Ireland with the native born population in terms of literacy, numeracy and problem solving.

  • Proficiency in English enhances the skill levels of immigrants, independent of education. Those born abroad with high levels of English language proficiency perform well across all three skills areas (literacy, numeracy and problem solving).
  • Foreign-born, foreign language speakers have lower skill levels in literacy and numeracy, despite high levels of education.
  • There were no notable differences in problem solving between Irish born and immigrants, regardless of their linguistic background.
  • The immigrant skills gap in literacy and numeracy is smaller in Ireland than in selected EU countries (France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the UK), most likely reflecting the higher educational profile of immigrants in Ireland.

Mr David Stanton, Minister of State with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration & Integration stated:

“Our priority is to promote the integration of migrants into communities across the country. It is vital that we monitor changes in the circumstances and experiences of migrants over time so that we can respond to their needs and plan for the future. Developing our knowledge base is a crucial part of this process. The ESRI's Integration Monitor is giving us valuable evidence of areas on which progress has been made and on those on which further action is needed."

Commenting on these findings, report author Dr Frances McGinnity said:

“The immigrant population in Ireland now comprises a large group of immigrants with Irish citizenship who share the same rights and responsibilities as Irish citizens by birth or descent. Citizenship does not necessarily imply a sense of belonging, but the very significant increase in the numbers gaining citizenship indicates progress towards the fuller integration of immigrants in Ireland. Notwithstanding the considerable progress made, challenges remain for Ireland in integrating its large numbers of new immigrants.”