rish voters go to the polls today for a general election — but new evidence suggests that much of the electorate may not stick around for long. The severe financial crisis in Ireland is spurring a wave of emigration that threatens to decimate the country's population. Here, a look at the numbers behind Ireland's exodus:
The current unemployment rate in Ireland
Ireland's budget deficit as a percentage of GDP (approximately $227 billion). By comparison, the U.S. deficit this year stands at about 9 percent of its GDP.
Savings the Irish government hopes to make over the next four years, mainly by cutting state pensions and benefits, and raising taxes
The number of Irish citizens expected to leave the country in the next two years
The number of Irish citizens currently leaving the country every week. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who is set to become Ireland's next prime minister, called the figure a "national heartbreak."
The number of Irish emigrants who returned home every week in 2002, at the height of the "Celtic Tiger" boom
The rise this year in visa applications by Irish citizens to Australia
Number of Irish citizens currently in Australia on a two-year "holiday" visa
The number of Irish citizens who left the country during the recession of 1989
The number of Irish citizens who left the country in the ten years after WWII
The number of Irish citizens who left the country in the ten years after the potato famine of the 1850s
Population of Ireland in 1841
Population of Ireland in 1926, the lowest point in the last 170 years
Current population of Ireland
Number of Americans who claim "Irish" as their primary ethnicity, according to the 2000 U.S. census
Approximate number of people around the world who claim Irish descent. This block of people is affectionately known in Ireland as the "Fifth Province."
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