‘Remarkable’ level of over-50s’ children emigrating

Despite emigration and drop in net wealth, over-50s ‘satisfied’ with quality of life

One in every 20 children of those over 50 in Ireland has emigrated over the past four years, the study has found.

Of the 10,496 children of the 8,000 people aged over- 50 examined in the second major report of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, published yesterday, 14.4 per cent were living with their parents during the first round of interviews in 2009/2010, 68 per cent were living in Ireland but not with their parents, while 17 per cent were living abroad.

About 5 per cent of children living in Ireland during the first interviews emigrated before the second round of interviews in 2012/2013.

The research’s principal investigator Prof Rose Anne Kenny said yesterday this rate of emigration represented a “remarkable outflow” when compared with international standards.


Almost eight in 10 of the children studied were living in Ireland during both rounds of interviews. Of the remaining children, 16 per cent were living abroad during both rounds, 1.5 per cent were “return migrants”, while 4 per cent constituted emigrants.

Of those children who have emigrated, 83 per cent were employed during the latest interviews. This compares to 75 per cent employment among children who stayed in Ireland. About7 per cent of children who emigrated were unemployed during the second round of interviews compared with 11 per cent of children who are still in Ireland.

In terms of quality of life among the over-50s, gross income levels remained the same over the four-year period of the study, but total net assets fell from €255,000 to €213,000. This drop is “largely” attributed to a reduction in the value of property.

Housing wealth
Owner-occupied housing wealth as a percentage of total wealth fell from about 71 per cent to about 67 per cent over the four years. Median valuations of owner-occupied housing wealth fell from about €230,000 to €180,000 in the period. Also, the median value of second and subsequent homes had "fallen greatly" – from €200,000 to €150,000.

Of the over-50s out of work during the first round of interviews, just one in five had re-entered the labour market by the second round. Some 49 per cent remained unemployed, 14 per cent retired, 19 per cent regained employment, 7 per cent were permanently sick or disabled, while 8 per cent said looking after home or family was their main labour market status.

The over-50s “enjoy high levels of satisfaction with their quality of life into late old age, and those with strong social networks and relationships have higher quality of life than those less socially active”.

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly said he was “encouraged” by some of the findings, “particularly those that show, in general, the over-50s enjoy a good quality of life”.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter