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Early-life Causes and Later-life Consequences of Migration: Evidence from Older Irish Adults

Abstract

Between 2009 and 2011, fieldwork was undertaken for the first wave of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA). Extensive information was collected on about 8,500 individuals aged 50 and over and living in Ireland, covering topics such as economic circumstances and health. One of the features of Ireland’s older population is the remarkably high proportion of returned migrants, that is, former emigrants who have returned to live in Ireland. This is reflected in the TILDA sample with over 20 % being returned migrants. Given the large number of returned migrants in the TILDA sample and the fact that the respondents are older, it has been possible to use the data to provide insights into different dimensions of migration at different points in the life-cycle. This paper provides a review of this work to date. Three issues are addressed. First, what circumstances contributed to the decision to emigrate? Second, was there evidence that living away produced psychological stress? Third, do return migrants suffer from social isolation on their return? The data suggest that the return migrants were more likely to have suffered abuse as children, to have been more prone to alcohol problems and to be more socially isolated currently.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Migrants who were diagnosed before migration are excluded from the sample.

  2. 2.

    In TILDA self-completion questionnaire, respondents are asked to state: 1) if they ever felt that they should cut down on drinking (cut); 2) if people have ever annoyed them by criticizing their drinking (annoyed); 3) if they ever felt bad or guilty about drinking (guilty); 4) if they have ever taken a drink first thing in the morning to steady their nerves or get rid of an hangover (eye-opener). The test score varies from a minimum of zero to a maximum of four: zero if the respondent answers no to all the fours questions, four in the opposite case.

  3. 3.

    This index includes four components, expressed in terms of dichotomous variables: a) one if the individual is married or cohabiting, zero otherwise; b) one if the individual has at least two children, relatives or friends she feels close to, zero otherwise; c) one if the individual attends religious services at least once per month; zero otherwise; d) one if the individual participates in any groups (such as a sports or social group or club, a voluntary association, a self-help or charitable body), zero otherwise. Each connection type is scored either zero or one and the four scores are summed to create four levels (0–4) of social connection or engagement: most isolated (0–1), moderately isolated (2), moderately integrated (3) and most integrated (4).

  4. 4.

    Four negatively-worded questions and one positively-worded question are used: how often do you feel lack of companionship? How often do you feel left out? How often do you feel isolated from others? How often do you feel lonely? How often do you feel in tune with the people around you? The frequency of the outcome variable is assessed as: hardly ever or never; some of the time; or often.

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Correspondence to Irene Mosca.

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Barrett, A., Mosca, I. Early-life Causes and Later-life Consequences of Migration: Evidence from Older Irish Adults. Population Ageing 6, 29–45 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12062-012-9078-4

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Keywords

  • Early-life causes
  • Later-life consequences
  • Return migrants
  • Older adults
  • Ireland