Good evening,

I’ve been quiet of late due to a combination of some number crunching on behalf of nameless third parties, the summer silly season and some domestic stuff of no consequence. At the suggestion of commenter Jon Wallace I’ve begun some WB Yeatsbackground work on continuing Horsemans annual balance sheet analysis for 2014. Enda, over at Endgame in Ulster, has previously done some good work on this here.

The general idea is to analyse demographic changes over the previous year and apply the findings to likely future trends. I’m happy as the proverbial Pig in the brown stuff doing this type of number crunching. The key figures are based around census returns, births, deaths, immigration, emigration, community background and, of course, election results. It may take me a while!

I’d spent a couple of hours on this today when I stumbled upon some interesting conclusions that I thought were worth sharing with you.

The 2001 Census results for community background by age were as following:

2001
Age Band Catholic (%) Protestant (%) Other (%) None (%)
0 to 4 49.1 43.1 0.4 7.4
5 to 9 49.5 44.9 0.3 5.3
10 to 14 50.4 45.3 0.3 4
15 to 19 51.4 45.2 0.3 3.1
20 to 24 49.5 47 0.5 3
25 to 29 46 50.4 0.6 3
30 to 34 44.7 51.9 0.6 2.8
35 to 39 44.6 52.6 0.5 2.4
40 to 44 43.7 54 0.5 1.8
45 to 49 42.2 55.6 0.5 1.7
50 to 54 39.7 58.6 0.4 1.4
55 to 59 36.6 62 0.3 1.1
60 to 64 35.8 63 0.3 0.9
65 to 69 35.1 63.9 0.2 0.7
70 to 74 33.4 65.8 0.2 0.7
75+ 30.2 69.2 0.2 0.4

This, extrapolated to the 2011 census should have led to the following:

2011 BASED ON 2001
Age Band Catholic (%) Protestant (%) Other (%) None (%)
0 to 4
5 to 9
10 to 14 49.1% 43.1% 0.4% 7.4%
15 to 19 49.5% 44.9% 0.3% 5.3%
20 to 24 50.4% 45.3% 0.3% 4.0%
25 to 29 51.4% 45.2% 0.3% 3.1%
30 to 34 49.5% 47.0% 0.5% 3.0%
35 to 39 46.0% 50.4% 0.6% 3.0%
40 to 44 44.7% 51.9% 0.6% 2.8%
45 to 49 44.6% 52.6% 0.5% 2.4%
50 to 54 43.7% 54.0% 0.5% 1.8%
55 to 59 42.2% 55.6% 0.5% 1.7%
60 to 64 39.7% 58.6% 0.4% 1.4%
65 to 69 36.6% 62.0% 0.3% 1.1%
70 to 74 35.8% 63.0% 0.3% 0.9%
75+ 32.9% 66.3% 0.2% 0.6%

The actual 2011 figures were:

2011 ACTUAL
Age Band Catholic (%) Protestant (%) Other (%) None (%)
0 to 4 49.2% 36.4% 1.0% 13.4%
5 to 9 49.3% 40.1% 0.8% 9.8%
10 to 14 49.5% 41.9% 0.7% 8.0%
15 to 19 49.0% 42.9% 0.6% 7.5%
20 to 24 48.9% 42.3% 0.8% 7.9%
25 to 29 50.9% 40.7% 1.2% 7.1%
30 to 34 49.7% 42.4% 1.5% 6.4%
35 to 39 46.8% 46.2% 1.3% 5.6%
40 to 44 45.4% 49.4% 1.0% 4.3%
45 to 49 44.7% 50.8% 0.9% 3.6%
50 to 54 43.5% 52.8% 0.8% 2.9%
55 to 59 42.1% 54.5% 0.8% 2.5%
60 to 64 39.2% 57.9% 0.8% 2.1%
65 to 69 36.3% 61.4% 0.8% 1.5%
70 to 74 35.4% 62.8% 0.7% 1.1%
75+ 31.3% 67.2% 0.6% 0.8%

There has been much speculation here and elsewhere regarding the effects of immigration/ emigration and the increasing trend towards secularisation so how far out was Horseman with his predictions? Not a lot is the answer, here is the variation between his predictions and the actual results:

Difference
Age Band Catholic (%) Protestant (%) Other (%) None (%)
0 to 4
5 to 9
10 to 14 0.4% -1.2% 0.3% 0.6%
15 to 19 -0.5% -2.0% 0.3% 2.2%
20 to 24 -1.5% -3.0% 0.5% 3.9%
25 to 29 -0.5% -4.5% 0.9% 4.0%
30 to 34 0.2% -4.6% 1.0% 3.4%
35 to 39 0.8% -4.2% 0.7% 2.6%
40 to 44 0.7% -2.5% 0.4% 1.5%
45 to 49 0.1% -1.8% 0.4% 1.2%
50 to 54 -0.2% -1.2% 0.3% 1.1%
55 to 59 -0.1% -1.1% 0.3% 0.8%
60 to 64 -0.5% -0.7% 0.4% 0.7%
65 to 69 -0.3% -0.6% 0.5% 0.4%
70 to 74 -0.4% -0.2% 0.4% 0.2%
75+ -1.6% 0.9% 0.4% 0.2%

My conclusion is that Horseman was incredibly accurate in his predictions. Regarding the Catholic proportion of the election he was accurate to within 1% in all bar two age groups and <1.6% in the exceptions. Regarding the Protestant community he was marginally less accurate but the difference is almost entirely accounted for by the other or none categories. I am yet to hear or see a reasoned argument countering his projections.

As always, it is actual votes that count in the real world. My thinking is that the nationalist electorate is somewhat under represented due to electoral apathy and low turnout. The way to turn that around is possibly to address the economic issues that motivate most people to turn out and vote. Perhaps it is about time for the economic case for a re-united Ireland to be coherently made.

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