It is full of tables and graphs showing every permutation possible of age, gender, economic activity, and of course religion. As such it is a fascinating source of information on how many workers, unemployed people, and so on, are either Catholic, Protestant or 'other'.
The statistics revealing that Catholics are, for example, more likely to be unemployed than Protestants, or more likely to be students, are interesting, but for the purposes of this blog the key statistic is the breakdown of the overall working-age population by religion. The LFS doesn't cover school kids, so its figures for the Catholic proportion of the overall population 16+ are probably lower than the whole cradle-to-grave population. A further point to note is that the LFS is based on a sample, and so the figures vary quite a lot from one year to the next. Nonetheless, the overall trends revealed by the LFS are quite clear:
- The Protestant proportion of the population aged 16+ is dropping, and the Catholic proportion is rising,
- Between the ages of 16-24 there are more Catholics than Protestants (and this has probably been the case since around the year 2000),
- The population aged 60+ is still around two-thirds Protestant,
- The number of Catholics who are full-time students is considerably higher than the number of Protestants (providing fuel, of course, for the 'Protestant brain drain' worries of the unionists),
- A considerably higher proportion of Catholic households have dependent children, than Protestant households, and they have more of them.
All of which adds up to the inescapable conclusion that there is already a Catholic majority under the age of 24, and it is going to continue (look at the dependent children). As these young Catholics grow up, they will increasingly replace the older Protestants who are dying at double the rate of Catholics. The Catholic students will, as has been shown in other blogs here, tend to stay in Northern Ireland, thereby ensuring that the professions and the top echelons of business and administration will become majority Catholic.
The geographic split (also shown in the LFS) shows clearly that the areas of Protestant majority are shrinking back to the old areas of north Down and south Antrim colonised by Hamilton and Montgomery before the official Plantation, but with the added factor of a soon-to-be-majority-Catholic Belfast in the middle.