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Returned Irish emigrants more likely to have problems with alcohol

8,000 older Irish people are being studied over a ten year period, in order to chart their health, economic and other circumstances.

HIGHER RATES OF alcohol problems have been found among older Irish people who spent time as emigrants.

The findings are referenced in yesterday’s report from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing — which was launched by Trinity in 2006 to study a sample of 8,000 people aged 50 and over and resident in Ireland.

The project aims to chart their health, social and economic circumstances over a ten-year period.

Researchers found that almost a quarter of the men and just over a fifth of the women included in the study had lived abroad for at least six months.

Of that number, over 40 per cent were abroad over ten years.

In their findings, researchers Dr Irene Mosca and Professor Alan Barrett sought to explore whether the experience of emigration had had a negative psychological impact, based on other studies which found “that emigration can be stressful and was often associated with mental health difficulties”.

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Compared to respondents who had stayed in Ireland since birth, they found that – using alcohol as an indicator of psychological stress – male returned migrants generally showed higher rates of alcohol problems “and this was taken as being evidence of the psychological stress of emigration”.


Among women, a more complicated picture emerged. Women who had lived away for a short time showed the same pattern as men.However, women who had lived outside of Ireland for ten years or more showed lower rates of alcohol problems compared to women who had remained in Ireland.

According to the study, “the authors interpreted this as showing that emigration had been positive for this group of Irish women, providing them with, for example, financial independence”.

Read: The NHS is planning a roadshow to nab some Irish nurses

Read: Vlog: Emigrating with other people can be tough… emigrating alone can be much tougher

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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