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Limited English proficiency and psychological distress among Latinos and Asian Americans

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  • Zhang, Wei
  • Hong, Seunghye
  • Takeuchi, David T.
  • Mossakowski, Krysia N.
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    Abstract

    English proficiency is increasingly recognized as an important factor that is related to the mental health of immigrants and ethnic minorities. However, few studies have examined how the association between English proficiency and mental health operates and whether the pattern of association is similar or different among various ethnic minority groups. This paper investigates how limited English proficiency directly and indirectly affects psychological distress through pathways of discrimination for both Latinos and Asian Americans in the United States. Findings suggest that, for Asian Americans, limited English proficiency has an independent relationship with psychological distress over and above demographic variables, socioeconomic and immigration-related factors and discrimination. For Latinos, however, socio-demographic variables and discrimination show a stronger association than limited English proficiency in affecting psychological distress. Different forms of discrimination – everyday discrimination and racial/ethnic discrimination – are equally important for both ethnic groups. Findings underscore the differential role of limited English proficiency for the mental health of Asian Americans and Latinos and suggest the distinctive racial experiences and backgrounds of these two ethnic groups.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 75 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 6 ()
    Pages: 1006-1014

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:6:p:1006-1014

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    Keywords: English proficiency; Discrimination; Psychological distress; Latinos; Asian Americans; USA; Language;

    References

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    1. Yoo, Hyung Chol & Gee, Gilbert C. & Takeuchi, David, 2009. "Discrimination and health among Asian American immigrants: Disentangling racial from language discrimination," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 726-732, February.
    2. Casey, Teresa & Dustmann, Christian, 2007. "Intergenerational Transmission of Language Capital and Economic Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 3074, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Leu, Janxin & Yen, Irene H. & Gansky, Stuart A. & Walton, Emily & Adler, Nancy E. & Takeuchi, David T., 2008. "The association between subjective social status and mental health among Asian immigrants: Investigating the influence of age at immigration," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(5), pages 1152-1164, March.
    4. Jasso, Guillermina, 2011. "Migration and Stratification," IZA Discussion Papers 5904, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Gee, Gilbert C. & Spencer, Michael & Chen, Juan & Yip, Tiffany & Takeuchi, David T., 2007. "The association between self-reported racial discrimination and 12-month DSM-IV mental disorders among Asian Americans nationwide," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(10), pages 1984-1996, May.
    6. Mulvaney-Day, Norah E. & Alegría, Margarita & Sribney, William, 2007. "Social cohesion, social support, and health among Latinos in the United States," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 477-495, January.
    7. Matthew Hall & George Farkas, 2008. "Does human capital raise earnings for immigrants in the low-skill labor market?," Demography, Springer, vol. 45(3), pages 619-639, August.
    8. Hoyt Bleakley & Aimee Chin, 2004. "Language Skills and Earnings: Evidence from Childhood Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 481-496, May.
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