Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Excess of youth"

The new Ireland is again the subject of an article in the New York Times, although today it's more about the population experiences of different countries in the EU. According to the article, Ireland "and a few other places" have an "excess of youth".

Maybe - I said maybe - there are regions inside other EU states that have "an excess of youth", but Ireland does not and it is the only EU state with an average age under 35. Compare the population stats for Ireland, the UK, Spain, Portugal, France and the US.

Although there are obvious differences in scale, the Irish population structure and growth rate is more similar to that in the United States than it is to any other EU state despite the attempts in the article to try to paint a picture where you have some younger and some older EU states. That's wrong. Only Ireland (& possibly France) could be said to have close to the right amount of "youth".

The article also tells us that 36% of Ireland's population is under 25, but throughout the 20th century that figure was over 40%. Ireland's population is aging, but it is growing rapidly, which is causing a few problems. Those problems are not, however, due to an excess of youth. An "excess of growth" would be a lot more appropriate, but that would imply an "excess of immigration", which the Times could never countenance.