The estimated population of Northern Ireland is just over 1700000 persons – an increase of 11% on that of 1971, though that decade saw a significant decline. Our own area (Newry & Mourne) is experiencing fast growth and Banbridge too, up a remarkable 10% in just five years.
Our Local Government Council is soon to be included with it – and Craigavon and Armagh – in one of the seven Super Councils. The number of Councillors will be more than halved.
The birth rate though – at 13 per thousand – is much lower than the 18/19 per thousand of a generation ago. It follows that more people are surviving longer. Deaths are 8.4 per thousand. Women of today have a life expectancy of 80 years and men seventy-eight. But children born today can add four to five more potential years to that. Teenage mothers are fewer but the fraction of mothers in their late thirties has risen from 10% to 17% in the last decade alone. N Ireland is currently experiencing a net annual inward migration of ~ 800 compared with a net outward migration less than a decade ago of one thousand. Most people believe the former figure is meaningless with potentially huge numbers of illegal immigrants.
Our average household size is 2.56 persons. A quarter of our households are of one person. Over the last four years alone the fraction of households of five or more persons has decreased from 14% to 10%. Those married or co-habiting represent 58%, lone parents a further 14%. Last year a lone parent headed 29% of all families with dependent children. This number is up by 5% in just five years.
The population profile now is: 25% of all N Ireland household members are children under the age of sixteen; 45% are adults of 30-64 years; 14% are aged 65 and over. The latter small group, however, account for 43% of all those living alone.