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Ireland: Monitoring Report on Integration 2016

On 1 March 2017, Minister of State for Justice David Stanton launched the 2016 edition of the Monitoring Report on Integration. The report examines migrant integration in Ireland in the areas of employment, education, social inclusion and active citizenship. It also includes a special theme on migrant skills. Researchers use indicators to measure different aspects of immigrant inclusion in the Irish society, using the most recently available data.

Results show that a significant proportion of immigrants in Ireland are now Irish citizens, income poverty is higher among non-Irish groups than Irish nationals, and that employment rates are lower among African nationals than any other nationality group. 


It is estimated that up to 45 per cent of the adult non-EU immigrant population residing in Ireland at end of 2015 had the Irish citizenship. In 2015, 13,500 naturalisation certificates were issued. Overall, between 2005 and 2015, over 121,100 non-Irish nationals acquired Irish citizenship through naturalisation.


In 2015, employment rates were slightly higher for Irish nationals (63 per cent) than non-Irish nationals (60 per cent). Rates were however varied among foreigners' groups, with the lowest rate observed among African nationals (circa 40 per cent). On the other hand, the unemployment rate was slightly higher for non-Irish nationals (13 per cent) compared to Irish nationals (just under 10 per cent).


Data show lower reading scores among immigrants from non-English speaking backgrounds than their Irish peers at both second and sixth class (primary school). The same is observed for mathematics test scores of second class students.

Poverty and Deprivation

In 2014, 21 per cent of non-Irish nationals were living below the income poverty line, 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 citizens, 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 they have increased in recent years. This increase may partially be due to the growing proportion of students in the non-EU population, as well as rising in-work poverty among this group.

Immigrant Skills

Comparing the skills of immigrants with the native born population in terms of literacy, numeracy and problem solving, results show that:

  • Proficiency in English enhances the skill levels of immigrants, independent of education. Those born abroad with high levels of English proficiency perform well across all three skills areas.
  • Foreign-born foreign language speakers have lower skill levels in literacy and numeracy, despite high levels of education.
  • There is 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 however 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.

The Monitoring Report on Integration is a joint publication of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and the Department of Justice and Equality. See all editions: 20162013201220112010.

Attached file(s)
Alan Barrett, Frances McGinnity, Emma Quinn
Posted by:
Country Coordinator Ireland