Preliminary results from Census 2022 show that the population of Limerick City and County grew by 5.4% between 2016 and 2022. This is below the national average (7.6%). Limerick is amongst the counties with relatively low population growth during this period (lowest at 5.1%). Net migration – people coming into the country - accounted for more than half of the population growth (53%) in the state. The average annual net migration rate was 6.6 per 1,000 population nationally. This rate was lower for Limerick at 3.8 per 1,000 population.

Population Change Limerick

Between 2016 and 2022, the population grew at a faster rate for all sub-areas of Limerick compared with the previous census period (2011-2016). The Metropolitan Area experienced a higher rate of population growth (6.6%) compared with the city and county as a whole (5.4%). The more rural parts of the County (i.e., the Adare-Rathkeale, Cappamore-Kilmallock and Newcastle West Municipal Districts) show positive but lower rates of population growth.

The outer parts of the city – the suburbs and villages within the Metropolitan Area – experienced strong population growth. Local areas (Electoral Divisions) in the city centre - around the Docks and Market area - showed the highest rates of population growth (125% to 155%) within the Metropolitan Area. These are areas with concentrations of migrant populations and rented accommodation. The population of the regeneration areas of the city (Moyross, Southill, St. Mary’s Park and Ballinacurra Weston) stabilised between 2016 and 2022. The two larger estates, Southill and Moyross, experienced positive population growth in this period. The map showing the percentage change in population between 2016 and 2022 is shown below.

While the recent trends in population change in the state need more detailed analysis as Census 2022 data become available, there is evidence that more rural areas (and counties with significant rural populations) have increased their populations. This trend is reflected in parts of rural Limerick. This could be associated with rural areas considered more attractive places to live (for instance, linked to impact of COVID-19) and more availability of housing stock and at affordable prices in rural locations.

Dependency Ratio

The demographic strength or weakness of an area as it relates to its economically productive population is reflected in the dependency ratio. A higher value for the Youth Dependency Ratio can be viewed as positive in that it represents an economic strength that can be harnessed in the future.  

The Youth Dependency ratio (population 0-14 years relative to the population 15-64 years) in Limerick City and County was 31.0 in 2016, which was lower than the state average of 32.3. The Old Age Dependency ratio (population 65+ relative to the population 15-64 years) was 21.4, higher than the state average of 20.4 for the same period.

The inner and outer suburban neighbourhoods of Limerick have a higher Youth Dependency Ratio (31.3) and a lower Old Age Dependency Ratio (15.7). This reflects the general structure of population living in the suburbs – family-based households with children and young adults. The city has a mixed pattern. Parts of the inner city have high Youth Dependency Ratios (areas around the Docks and Market with concentrations of migrant families, and lone parent households). Other parts of the city in both affluent and disadvantaged areas have high Old Age Dependency Ratios.

The Total Dependency Ratio for Limerick City and County (52.4) is very close to the state average (52.7) but there are differences within the City and County. Some areas have a relatively low Total Dependency Ratio mostly because they have a larger proportion of families with children and do not have a large proportion of the population in older age groups. This is the case in sub-urban and peri-urban areas. Other areas in rural Limerick have a high Total Dependency Ratio because they have both a large proportion of young children and older residents.  These include some parts of the city and also remote rural areas.