Poor health of Irish in Britain ‘linked to abuse’, study finds

Emigrants of 1920s to 1960s had poorer health outcomes than those who stayed

More recent Irish immigrants to England ‘are generally healthier than the native English population, a more-typical pattern that reflects the healthy immigrant effect’, the study found.

More recent Irish immigrants to England ‘are generally healthier than the native English population, a more-typical pattern that reflects the healthy immigrant effect’, the study found.

Wed, Dec 18, 2013, 12:55

The poor health of Irish emigrants to Britain, which has long been a feature of British health surveys, could be attributed to the sexual and physical abuse many suffered growing up, a new study has found.

A large percentage of those who left Ireland between 1920 and 1960 were victims, according to the findings published in the December edition of Demography.

Usually, immigrants have better health outcomes than their host population because they are younger and healthier - an experience not enjoyed by the Irish who left between 1920 and 1960.

The Irish who emigrated had poorer health outcomes than those who stayed at home, according to Exporting Poor Health: The Irish in England by Liam Delaney,Alan Fernihough and James P. Smith.

Figures published in the 1980s showed Irishmen and women aged between 20 and 49, or between 20 and 69, suffered the highest death rates, bar African women aged between 20 and 50.

Meanwhile, other studies since the 1980s have shown the Irish in Britain suffer higher-than-average problems withm mental health.

By contrast, more recent Irish immigrants to England “are generally healthier than the native English population, a more-typical pattern that reflects the healthy immigrant effect”.

The rates of sexual and physical abuse amongst earlier emigrants are higher than amongst those who stayed, but “particularly high” amongst those who left between 1941 and 1960, but later returned to Ireland.

“Among those born between 1951 and 1960, one-in-every five return migrants suffered some form of childhood abuse, with almost 1 in 10 experiencing sexual abuse,” says the research.

Quoting from the Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland report from 2002, it said “almost one-third of women and one-quarter of men reported some form of sexual abuse as children”.

Up to now, there has been “a common view” that many emigrants struggled because of the relations between Ireland and Britain over decades “in light of sporadic political violence”.

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