Recent Immigrant Cohorts, Country of Origin, Duration of Stay and Their Impact on Immigrant Psychological Distress: Evidence from Hierarchical Analyses of National Health Interview Surveys, 1997-2007

Jing Li, University of Texas at Austin

Studies focusing on immigrants and mental health are not as systematic as those on physical health. The findings are less consistent; researchers do not agree on whether immigrants have better, equal or worse mental well-being than native-born Americans. Furthermore, scholars have not realized the hierarchical nature of the research questions concerning immigrant and mental health. A handful of person-level migration variables dominate hypotheses of immigration and well-being, but few researchers have attempted to distinguish the effects of group-level migration variables from those at the individual level on immigrant mental health. This paper employs two-level hierarchical models to investigate how these factors pattern immigrant mental health. First, an overview of native-immigrant comparison in psychological distress is documented. Second, I look into how group-level variables (migration cohort and country of origin) and personal characteristics including duration in U.S. contribute to this difference. Results have significant implications for the “healthy immigrant effect” hypothesis.

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Presented in Session 29: Interrelationships of Migration and Health