Abstract: Gender Differences in Depression among Mexican Immigrants (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

12079 Gender Differences in Depression among Mexican Immigrants

Friday, January 15, 2010: 2:30 PM
Pacific Concourse O (Hyatt Regency)
* noted as presenting author
Marcia Shobe, PhD , University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Director, Fayetteville, AR
Javier Boyas, PhD , University of Texas at Arlington, Assistant Professor, Fayetteville, AR
Background and Purpose: Approximately three million immigrants enter the U.S. annually seeking opportunities to build a better life. While Latinos comprise the fastest and largest groups of immigrants, Mexican immigrants are more likely to have limited human and financial capital than other Latino immigrants. Maintaining a stable level of mental health is vital for the survival of Latino immigrants. While previous studies indicate that human capital and income poverty are associated with depression, particularly for Mexican immigrants, minimal research has examined the relationships between asset poverty and depression for male and female Mexican immigrants. This study examines the relationships between human capital, financial capital, and depression for 350 Mexican immigrants.

Methods: Using data from the 2003 New Immigrant Survey, we analyze the relationships between human capital, financial capital, and depression for 350 Mexican immigrants who participated in the 2003 New Immigrant Survey. The sample was randomly drawn from electronic administrative record depositories of new permanent resident aliens kept by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service. Demographic variables in the current study include age and marital status. Human capital is measured by educational level and employment status and financial capital is measured by income level and asset ownership. The main analysis for this study utilized a binary logistic regression to clarify the relationship between assets and depression symptoms among Mexican immigrant by gender. In the logistic regression model, all variables were entered into the model concurrently since we did not hypothesize a priori the relative importance of each variable and its relation to depression.

Results: Binary logistic regression results suggest significant correlations between employment, homeownership and depression, with important gender differences. Turning to human capital, males significantly report higher employment levels and rates of financial capital than females. Depression symptomatology also differed significantly based on gender, with females more likely to report depression than males. Results of the logistic regression indicate that female homeowners are less likely to be at risk of depression than female non-homeowners. While homeownership did not have a significant effect on mental health outcomes for Mexican males, unemployment did, with unemployed males reporting higher rates of depressive symptomatology than employed males.

Implications: Social workers are in a unique position to provide support to Mexican immigrants in terms of human and financial capital development. Collaborations between community leaders and local, state and federal governments are suggested to develop Welcome Centers in immigrant communities that provide information and support in order for immigrants to acclimate to the U.S. culture. Helping Mexican immigrants claim a stake in their communities at the onset may have important implications for short-term and long-term mental health outcomes. In terms of financial capital development, Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) currently provide dedicated savings account programs for low-income individuals, including immigrants, to build long-term economic stability through asset development. Future research designs should include other household assets, including personal and retirement savings, investments, and real estate property to provide a wider lens with which to examine the relationships between assets and mental health outcomes.