More than one in four children born here six years ago have at least one migrant parent, with childcare costs among the biggest issues facing their families.
Research by Trinity College Dublin’s sociology department reveals 28% of those born between December 2007 and June 2008 had at least one non-Irish parent.
The parents of only 10% were both migrants, as 13% had an Irish mother or father, and 5% were living in a lone-parent household at the age of nine months.
The study is based on data from the families of over 11,000 children as part of the Government’s long-term Growing up in Ireland research.
It shows that mothers born outside Ireland are more highly educated than the native population, with 60% of mothers from pre-accession EU countries and 46% of Asian mothers holding at least a third-level degree, compared to 26% of Irish mothers.
However, homes headed by at least one migrant parent from EU accession states, Asia, or Africa were more likely to be in lower social classes, with lower incomes and higher risks of poverty.
In contrast, families with at least one parent from older EU countries were the most socio-economically advantaged.
Lead researcher Antje Röder said one of the most startling findings was that, although they were among the most active in the labour market before having children, mothers from EU accession states were least likely to return to work after childbirth.
“In most cases, it’s their first child, they are quite young and wouldn’t be expected not to go back to their jobs,” she said.
“Dual-income families rely on family for childcare help but that’s not really an option for most migrant families.
“Childcare is a challenge for all those families because it’s very costly. We know from international studies that the most disadvantaged children benefit most from good quality childcare, but it could make more socio-economic difference if parents can’t afford to go back to work,” Dr Röder said.
Migrant families from accession states had some of the lowest incomes, along with African households. Asians, to a lesser extent, have lower incomes but while many are in difficult situations, some are in high-level employment.
Families with mothers from these regions were largely concentrated in the greater Dublin area, and those with mothers from the UK more often lived in rural areas, the Irish Research Council-funded report shows.
Second-generation children and their families are more likely to live in rented accommodation and apartments rather than houses, and have less access to gardens or other common spaces. This is probably linked to their high numbers in urban areas.
While the majority of immigrant families feel settled and part of their local communities, they feel less so than Irish families.
Mixed couples, in which one parent is Irish, were most common where the other parent is born either in the UK or a pre-accession EU state.
The report also highlights Census 2011 findings that Poles, followed by Lithuanians and Indians, are the most likely to live only with people of the same nationality.
Nigerians, followed by Americans and Britons are most likely to live with Irish people, while Slovakians, Latvians, and Germans are most likely to live with nationalities other than Irish or their own.
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