‘Skype and Ryanair have not ended the impacts of emigration’

‘Skype and Ryanair have not ended the impacts of emigration’

MOTHERS whose children left Ireland in the latest wave of emigration have been left with depression and other mental health issues as a result of their loss.

A raft of negative health impacts on women parted with their offspring have been revealed in newly-published research by Trinity College Dublin.

The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) collected interview responses from more than 8,000 over 50s based in Ireland between 2010 and 2012.

The figures showed that in 2012, 15 per cent of the respondent’s had seen at least one child emigrate, with the mothers left behind suffering the most as a result.

TCD’s Professor Alan Barrett said that women over 50 showed “an increase in depressive symptoms” and loneliness as a consequence of their child choosing to leave their homeland.

The report also showed that this was not as widely the case for fathers, although men over the age of 65 did record “greater feelings of loneliness as a consequence of the emigration of a child”.

Responding to the study, Prof Barrett said the findings offered a “new angle to the migrant experience” not often picked up in the popular media focus.

“A lot of times when emigration is written about, the focus are on the emigrant themselves,” said Barrett.

“What’s interesting about this study is it shows that the impact of emigration goes far beyond that.”

The Professor, who was involved in the TILDA research, admitted that he was “a little surprised” by the findings.

“People argue that in the age of Skype and low-cost airlines emigration is not the big deal it previously was.

“It could well be the case that if we’d done this study 30 years ago there might have been a bigger effect in terms of depression and loneliness, but clearly Skype and Ryanair have not put an end to the impact of emigration.”

He added: “The sorrow for the parent left behind is a constant”.

The study – which will continue until 2016 – echoed patterns seen in research undertaken in Mexico, which looked at the effects on elderly people whose children had moved to America.

It also suggested that children from more prosperous backgrounds were more likely to emigrate today.

“In order to migrate you need a certain amount of resources behind you – including money and education – and your chances tend to be a little better,” Barrett explained.