The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Impact of Socio-Economic Status and Social Capital On Depression Among Older Chinese Immigrants

Saturday, January 19, 2013
Grande Ballroom A, B, and C (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Bum Jung Kim, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Hawai`i, Honolulu, HI
Lesley Harris, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Gan Liu, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Background/Purpose: Although studies have found relationships between self-rated health and social capital (Knesebeck, Dragno, & Siegrist, 2005), few studies have focused on immigrant populations such as older Chinese immigrants. Several studies have found that immigrants from China and Korea are high achieving in education, business and entrepreneurship due to their high accrual of family as social and human capital (Sanders & Nee, 1996; Zhou & Kim, 2006). However, few studies have focused on the connection between socio-demographic characteristics, social capital, and health among immigrant populations. This study aims to investigate the relationships between some aspects or subsets of social capital (social norms, trust, partnership with the community, information sharing and political participation) and self-rated health status before and after controlling for socio-demographic effects.

Methods: A cross-sectional study of 205 older Chinese immigrants (aged 60 years and older) was conducted in Los Angeles County. The study sample was recruited from adult day health care centers, and senior centers in Los Angeles County. Independent variables included age, gender, marital status, and income, while social capital included social norms, trust, partnership with the community, information sharing and political participation. Self-rated health was the dependent variable. Logistic regression analyses using STATA 10 software were conducted to identify predictors of self-rated health, and odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were also calculated.

Results: Logistic regression analyses showed that gender, monthly income, and information sharing emerged as significant determinants of self-rated health status. Older Chinese men had almost triple (OR: 2.9, 95% CI: 1.0-8.5) the probability of reporting good self-rated health compared to older Chinese women. Those with high monthly incomes were 4.7 times more likely (95% CI: 1.5-14.2) to report good self-rated health status than those with low monthly incomes. Age and marital status were not found to be associated with self-rated health status. Information sharing was the only significant determinant of good self-rated health status among all social capital variables. The odds of reporting good self-rated health status were significantly higher (OR: 7.1, 95% CI: 1.4-35.9) among older people with high levels of information sharing with their community, organizations, and government compared with those reporting low levels of information sharing. For other social capital variables, the study yielded no significant associations with self-rated health status.

Conclusions/Implications: The present study contributes to the literature in two main ways. First, we were able to study older Chinese immigrants, a group in which studies are needed because of the existing health disparities that exist in immigrant populations (Sohn, 2004). Through gaining valuable information about the health status of this population, efforts can be made to educate health care providers. Second, by determining that high income is related to good self-reported health and low income is related to poor self-reported health, we now understand that there are disparities within this group, based on income and potential access to healthcare.