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Study finds Irish travelling abroad to work fear 'skidding' to lower social classes

It also suggests that many ‘commuter migrants’ choose that lifestyle as a way of tackling large mortgages.

UCC researcher Dr David Ralph in Dublin Airport
UCC researcher Dr David Ralph in Dublin Airport

A STUDY INTO the experiences of Irish residents commuting abroad to work has found a large number to be ‘mortgage refugees’.

Conducted by University College Cork’s Institute of Social Sciences, the research found that so-called ‘commuter migrants’, many of which are young professionals with families and so are unwilling to emigrate, seek employment in other countries in order to service ‘burdensome’ mortgages.

It also found that these migrants fear “skidding”, or moving to a lower social class.

The authors of the study state that many are working to retain a middle class life style enjoyed during the Celtic Tiger, but is now unviable due to the downturn in the economy.

Well-paid jobs overseas offer an alternative, they say.

Dr David Ralph, who led the study, conducted in-depth interviews with a small sample of 30 ‘commuter migrants’.

He found that a minority of migrants do so a lifestyle choice, either because they enjoy travelling, switching between difference cultures, or challenges that a new job abroad can offer.

“Overall, commuters are a resourceful, resilient group,” Dr Ralph said.

They put their skills, education and work experience to creative use in the face of difficult circumstances in Ireland.

Nevertheless, the chronic travelling and separation from loved-ones takes its toll,” he noted. Fatigue from too many red-eye flights, miscommunication with partners and children back home during weekday separations, loneliness overseas – these are common complaints among commuters.”

A number also experienced issues with alcohol consumption when away from home.

Aaron McKenna: Whatever will we do about all those job-taking immigrants? >

Read: One new emigrant every five minutes, according to latest CSO figures >

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Nicky Ryan

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