The Impact of Adult Child Emigration on the Mental Health of Older Parents

IZA Logo

IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 21.01.2014, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Alan Barrett (ESRI, Dublin)


In recent times, economists have increasingly explored the impact of emigration on sending countries. One strand of this work has looked at the impact of emigration on family members left behind. Emigration has been found to have impacts, for example, on the education levels of children and on the health of parents. In this paper, we add to this line of research by exploring whether the mental health of older parents declines when their adult children emigrate. We use data from the Irish Longitudinal Survey on Ageing (TILDA) which is a large-scale, nationally representative sample of people aged 50 and over who live in Ireland. As a result of the economic collapse in Ireland, large population outflows occurred in the early part of this decade. The first wave of TILDA data was collected in 2010 and the second wave in 2012. The data contain information on where the participants’ children lived in 2010 and in 2012 so we can identify parents whose children emigrated or stayed. We have a number of measures of mental health so can see how mental health changed for each individual between the two waves. Combining these data, we can explore how changes in mental health are related to a child’s emigration, controlling for a range of other life events between the two waves which could impact upon mental health. Through this fixed effects approach, we find that the emigration of children does appear to cause a decline in mental health but that the effect is generally only present for mothers.

For more information, please contact