University of Oulu

Childhood between two countries : resilience and mental well-being of Finnish remigrant children and adolescents

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Author: Vuorenkoski, Lauri1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Paediatrics
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2000
Publish Date: 2000-04-03
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, for public discussion in the Auditorium of the Department of Paediatrics, on April 27th, 2000, at 12 noon.
Reviewer: Docent Andre Sourander
Professor Pertti Toukomaa


The objective of this thesis was to evaluate the effects of return migration on the mental well-being of Finnish children and adolescents in the short and long term. The thesis presents results on the prevalence of mental symptoms and how mental well-being is associated with social contacts and language use among returning migrants. The children and adolescents in this study had lived part of their lives in Sweden. Many Finnish young adults migrated to Sweden in search for work in the 1960s and 1970s, when job opportunities were better in Sweden than in Finland. In the 1980s the direction of migration flow changed, and many of the migrants moved back with their families.

The sample consisted all the 320 Finnish remigrant children who remigrated from Sweden to northern Finland in the years 1984 and 1985 and who attended comprehensive school after their remigration. A control group was formed by assigning each remigrant child a non-migrant counterpart of the same sex, age and class level in Finland. Information was gathered in three phases: In the first phase in 1986, questionnaires were sent to the children and their parents and teachers. In the second phase in 1992, questionnaires were sent to the adolescents and their parents, but not to the teachers, because many had already finished school. Thirdly, information on the hospital admissions of these children was obtained in the years 1986-96 from the Finnish Hospital Discharge Register (FHDR), which is held by the state.

The main outcome variables were obtained from Children"s Depression Inventory (CDI) and Children"s Behavioural Questionnaire for Parents (RA2) and Teachers (RB2). Remigrant children had more depression and behavioural disturbances than their native peers shortly after remigration. Six years later they still had more depression. During the 10-year period after remigration, 13 remigrants had had inpatient care because of a psychiatric diagnosis compared to only two controls with such a diagnosis. Age at remigration and sex had an influence on the manifestation of psychiatric symptoms after remigration. Especially preadolescent boys had more psychiatric symptoms shortly after migration. After remigration to Finland, the remigrants had equally many friends as their controls, but they still felt more lonely as long as six years after remigration. Simultaneous maintenance of both the native language and the second language together with the two cultures experienced in childhood enhanced the remigrant"s mental well-being. However, the principle of one person - one language was essentially important.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 951-42-5601-8
ISBN Print: 951-42-5600-X
Issue: 582
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2000. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.