Methods: Using data from the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS) (2002-2003) of 2,059 Asian immigrants, the given study explores the effects of perceived racial discrimination on participants’ psychological well-being. Asian immigrants’ group membership factors—immigrants’ generational status, age, and ethnic subgroup—were tested for possible moderating effects through two sets of regressions analyses. Two types of regression analysis were conducted to test the main effect of perceived racial discrimination on two different psychological well-being outcomes (i.e., Self-Rated Mental Health and Psychological distress). STATA 13.0 SE was used for data analysis.
Results: Asian immigrants’ psychological well-being and found its detrimental impact consistently throughout different analytical models. Not all of the group membership factors showed significant moderating impacts. Moreover, this study found significant protective factors for Asian immigrants even if they are faced with racial discrimination. Filipino immigrants were less likely to be distressed compared to Vietnamese immigrants, even when they were faced with racial discrimination. Immigrants in the age range of 45 to 64 were less likely to have higher psychological distress than immigrants in the age range of 18 to 29, even if they were faced with racial discrimination. In contrast, immigrants’ generational status did not have any significant moderating impact in the association between the racial discrimination and the psychological well-being of Asian immigrants.
Conclusions and Implications: This study fills the gaps in the literature in several ways and one of them is looking at self-rated mental health rather than mental health pathology. The current study findings has several implications at the policy and practice level. The findings from this study of detrimental impact on psychological well-being on Asian immigrants due to perceived discrimination suggests the need to decrease incidents of racial discrimination. While increasing diversity may not guarantee lower incidents of racial discrimination, it may be a good first step. With increased diversity, contact theory posits that more positive attitudes will develop due to more interactions (Dixon & Rosenbaum, 2004). At the mezzo level, there may be interventions targeting specific ethnic and age groups, such as Vietnamese young adults. For instance, social work services targeting this group can be conducted at on-campus settings in order to help young immigrants cope against perceived racial discrimination.