SOME older emigrants may have left Ireland because they suffered abuse, a study has found.
New research points to significant differences in the life experiences of earlier generations of emigrants from Ireland, with more developing alcohol problems and feeling socially isolated when they returned.
The Economic and Social Research Institute study examined the causes and consequences of migration amongst Irish people aged 50 or over, most of whom would have emigrated between the 1950s and the 1980s.
It found that a much higher proportion of these now returned emigrants had suffered physical or sexual abuse in childhood than those who never left Ireland.
Some 16pc of men who had been away for up to a decade had experienced abuse compared with 10pc of those who never left, while amongst returned female emigrants it was one in eight, compared with one in 12 of women who remained in Ireland.
And significantly more male emigrants also reported that their parents had drug or alcohol problems.
Meanwhile, up to 15pc of male emigrants reported an alcohol problem compared with 7.6pc of men who never left Ireland.
However, female emigrants who stayed away over 10 years were less likely to develop a drink problem than women who stayed in Ireland, which the report said suggested a "favourable migration experience".
It noted that for some Irish women of earlier generations, emigration had allowed a level of economic independence which was not available to those who stayed.
It also recorded high levels of social isolation amongst emigrants who returned to Ireland.
Some 30pc of men who remained in Ireland all their lives reported being socially isolated to some extent, but this rose to between 45pc and 62pc of returned emigrants.
Amongst women returned emigrants were also more likely to feel socially isolated, though this was less pronounced than amongst men.
The survey of over 8,000 people aged 50 and over in Ireland found that 24pc of men and 21pc of women had lived abroad for at least six months, while close to half of them had stayed away for at least 10 years.