Within the economics literature, the ‘psychic costs’ of migration have been incorporated into theoretical models since Sjaastad (J Polit Econ 70:80–93, 1962). However, the existence of such costs has rarely been investigated in empirical papers. In this paper, we look at the psychic costs of migration by using alcohol problems as an indicator. Rather than comparing immigrants and natives, we look at the native-born in a single country and compare those who have lived away for a period of their lives and those who have not. We use data from the first wave of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing which is a large, nationally representative sample of older Irish adults. We find that men who lived away are more likely to have suffered from alcohol problems than men who stayed. For women, we again see a higher incidence of alcohol problems for short-term migrants. However, long-term female migrants are less likely to have suffered from alcohol problems. For these women, it seems that migration provided psychic benefits, and this is consistent with findings from other research which showed how migration provided economic independence to this group. The results remain when we adjust for endogeneity and when we use propensity score matching methods.
Source: Journal of Population Economics, Volume 26, Issue 2, April 2013