The Association Between Subjective Social Status and Mental Health Among Asian Immigrants

Previous studies on the mental health of immigrants in the United States have shown that foreign-born Asians and Latinos have better mental health status than their U.S.-born counterparts. Twenty-five percent of immigrants who come to the United States are from Asia. In this paper, the authors examine whether age at the time of immigration affects the relationship between perceived socioeconomic status and mental health. The analysis used data from the National Latino and Asian American Survey. The sample group consisted of 1,451 foreign-born individuals aged 25 years.

Key Findings:

  • Eleven percent of those surveyed reported mood dysfunction in the past 12 months.
  • Forty-two percent immigrated to the United States before the age of 25 years and 58 percent immigrated after the age of 25 years.
  • Consistent with other studies, immigrants who came to the United States in their mid- to late-adulthood reported better mental health than those who had arrived earlier.
  • Higher ratings of perceived socioeconomic status were associated with lower chances of mood dysfunction in those arriving when they were 25 years of age or older.

Further research is needed to better understand the mental health of diverse immigrant Americans.