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Exporting Poor Health: The Irish in England


  • Liam Delaney
  • Alan Fernihough
  • James Smith



In the twentieth century, the Irish-born population in England has typically been in worse health than both the native population and the Irish population in Ireland, a reversal of the commonly observed healthy migrant effect. Recent birth cohorts living in England and born in Ireland, however, are healthier than the English population. The substantial Irish migrant health penalty arises principally for cohorts born between 1920 and 1960. In this article, we attempt to understand the processes that generated these changing migrant health patterns for Irish migrants to England. Our results suggest a strong role for economic selection in driving the dynamics of health differences between Irish-born migrants and white English populations. Copyright Population Association of America 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Liam Delaney & Alan Fernihough & James Smith, 2013. "Exporting Poor Health: The Irish in England," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(6), pages 2013-2035, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:50:y:2013:i:6:p:2013-2035
    DOI: 10.1007/s13524-013-0235-z

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael Grossman, 1972. "The Demand for Health: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gros72-1, January.
    2. Liam Delaney & Pat Wall & Fearghal O'hAodha, 2007. "Social Capital & Self-Rated Health in the Republic of Ireland. Evidence from the European Social Survey," Working Papers 200707, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    3. Guillermina Jasso & Douglas S. Massey & Mark R. Rosenzweig & James P. Smith, 2004. "Immigrant Health--Selectivity and Acculturation," Labor and Demography 0412002, EconWPA.
    4. Borjas, George J, 1985. "Assimilation, Changes in Cohort Quality, and the Earnings of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 463-489, October.
    5. Heather Antecol & Kelly Bedard, 2006. "Unhealthy assimilation: Why do immigrants converge to American health status levels?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 43(2), pages 337-360, May.
    6. Alan Barrett & Irene Mosca, 2013. "The psychic costs of migration: evidence from Irish return migrants," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(2), pages 483-506, April.
    7. T. Paul Schultz, 1998. "Immigrant quality and assimilation: A review of the US literature," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 11(2), pages 239-252.
    8. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-553, September.
    9. Barrett, Alan, 1999. "Irish Migration: Characteristics, Causes and Consequences," IZA Discussion Papers 97, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. James P. Smith, 1999. "Healthy Bodies and Thick Wallets: The Dual Relation between Health and Economic Status," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 145-166, Spring.
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    Cited by:

    1. Constant, Amelie F. & García-Muñoz, Teresa & Neuman, Shoshana & Neuman, Tzahi, 2014. "Micro and Macro Determinants of Health: Older Immigrants in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 8754, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. James P. Smith & Liam Delaney, 2015. "Acquiring Human Capital through the Generations by Migration," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(4), pages 564-600.
    3. Barrett, Alan & Mosca, Irene, 2012. "Exploring the Early-life Causes and Later-life Consequences of Migration through a Longitudinal Study on Ageing," IZA Discussion Papers 6878, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Constant, Amelie F. & García-Muñoz, Teresa & Neuman, Shoshana & Neuman, Tzahi, 2015. "A "Healthy Immigrant Effect" or a "Sick Immigrant Effect"? Selection and Policies Matter," IZA Discussion Papers 9338, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Amelie F. Constant, 2017. "The Healthy Immigrant Paradox and Health Convergence," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 15(3), pages 20-25, October.
    6. Aoife Brick & Anne Nolan, 2014. "Maternal Country of Birth Differences in Breastfeeding at Hospital Discharge in Ireland," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 45(4), pages 455-484.
    7. repec:spr:eujhec:v:19:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10198-017-0870-1 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Unhealthy migrant; Childhood abuse; Ireland;

    JEL classification:

    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General


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