Mortality among second generation Irish in England and Wales

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7043.1373 (Published 01 June 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:1373
  1. John Haskey
  1. Statistician Census, Population, and Health Group, Office for National Statistics, London WC2B 6JP

    Poorer health is not fully explained by continuing socioeconomic disadvantage

    People born in Ireland make up the largest immigrant group in England and Wales and have been found in earlier studies to have poorer health than all other immigrant groups.1 2 The paper in this issue by Harding and Balarajan (p 1389)shows that mortality among second generation Irish—those born in England and Wales with one or both parents born in the Republic of Ireland—is significantly higher than overall mortality for all causes and for most major causes of death.3 It is important to understand this continuing health disadvantage among the children of Irish immigrants.

    The history of immigration from Ireland has been a long and sometimes dramatic one. The social, economic, and demographic characteristics of the first generation of Irish settlers undoubtedly influenced their patterns of morbidity and mortality. They could also have influenced the magnitude and type of mortality of the second generation.

    Emigration from Ireland has occurred at least since the Act of Union in 1800 (in which Ireland became part of the United Kingdom), the rate of emigration depending on the degree of economic hardship and population pressure at home and the demand for labour and service in Britain. When potato blight destroyed the crop for four successive years in 1845-8, causing the Great Famine, the population of Ireland …

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