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Out-of-School Social Activities among Immigrant-Origin Children Living in Ireland


  • Merike Darmody

    (Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin and Trinity College Dublin)

  • Emer Smyth

    (Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin and Trinity College Dublin)


In recent years, the children of immigrants have become an integral part of the Irish national tapestry. This article sheds light on their social engagement outside the formal education system by exploring sports and cultural participation among the children of immigrants. Participating in sport, fitness and cultural pursuits provides children and young people with opportunities for enjoyment and social interaction and may ultimately strengthen community cohesion. In addition, cultural participation outside school has been found to enhance engagement and academic progress within school. The findings show that, at nine years of age, immigrant-origin children are less likely to take part in organised sports or structured cultural activities (such as music or dance classes) than their Irish peers. The participation gap is greater for those from non-English-speaking backgrounds and those whose families are from Eastern Europe, Africa or Asia. The gap between immigrant and Irish children’s leisure participation reduces over time, although involvement at nine has a notable influence on participation at 13 and involvement among Asian young people remains lower than among other groups. Lower self-reported popularity levels among immigrant-origin 13-year-olds are largely explained by lower levels of involvement in organised sports. The findings therefore have implications for ensuring the inclusion of immigrant children in out-of-school activities and for their integration more generally.

Suggested Citation

  • Merike Darmody & Emer Smyth, 2017. "Out-of-School Social Activities among Immigrant-Origin Children Living in Ireland," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 48(4), pages 419-439.
  • Handle: RePEc:eso:journl:v:48:y:2017:i:4:p:419-439

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gillian Kingston & Frances McGinnity & Philip J O’Connell, 2015. "Discrimination in the labour market: nationality, ethnicity and the recession," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 29(2), pages 213-232, April.
    2. McCoy, Selina & Byrne, Delma & Banks, Joanne, 2010. "Too much of a good thing? Gender, 'Concerted cultivation' and unequal achievement in primary education," Papers WP362, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    3. Fahey, Tony & Delaney, Liam & Gannon, Brenda, 2005. "School Children and Sport in Ireland," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number BMI182, December.
    4. McCoy, Selina & Banks, Joanne & Frawley, Denise & Watson, Dorothy & Shevlin, Michael & Smyth, Fiona, 2014. "Understanding Special Class Provision in Ireland: Findings from a National Survey of Schools," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number BKMNEXT259, December.
    5. Kingston, Gillian & McGinnity, Frances & O'Connell, Philip J., 2015. "Discrimination in the Labour Market: Nationality, Ethnicity and the Recession," Papers RB2015/2/2, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    6. Smyth, Emer & Darmody, Merike & McGinnity, Frances & Byrne, Delma, 2009. "Adapting to Diversity: Irish Schools and Newcomer Students," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number RS8, December.
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    immigrants; children; Ireland;


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