Abstract: Predictors of Social Exclusion Among African Immigrants in the United States (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

261P Predictors of Social Exclusion Among African Immigrants in the United States

Friday, January 18, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Sherinah Saasa, PhD, Assistant Professor, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Background and Purpose: In 2015, there were approximately 2.1 million immigrants from the African continent living in the United States. Existing scholarly literature indicates that migrant populations of non-European descent are particularly vulnerable to discrimination and exclusion in their host societies. The experiences of immigrant populations in the United States have attracted considerable attention in scholarly discourse in recent years. However, the African immigrant population in the United States has been grossly understudied. Research suggests exclusionary mechanisms fostering negative socioeconomic outcomes for African immigrants with increased vulnerability for black African immigrants. This study utilized multivariate analyses to explore determinants of social exclusion among immigrants from African countries currently living in the United States.

Method: A cross-sectional survey design was utilized to collect the data. Participants included 409 African immigrants across the United States that represented at least 31 African countries, and 42 of the 50 U.S. states. This included a distribution across all four U.S. Census Bureau Regions: 15.9% northeast, 14.7% midwest, 47.5% south, and 21.9% west. The outcome of interest was social exclusion that was measured using a 15-item social exclusion scale consisting of four dimensions that entail social-cultural and structural-economic exclusion as follows: limited social participation, insufficient normative integration, material deprivation, and limited access to basic social rights. Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was used to analyze the data.

Results: About 84% of the sample identified as black, 32% male, 68% female, with an average age of 31.8 (SD = 9.2). Model fit indices for the SEM model showed acceptable fit to the data: [χ2 (349, N = 396) = 616.7, p = .000]; CFI = .911; TLI = .887; RMSEA = .044 (90% CI: 0.038 - 0.050); SRMR = .050. Participants generally reported moderate levels of social exclusion with increased vulnerability for limited access to basic social rights and insufficient normative integration. Results revealed that discrimination, health status, education, religion, length of stay and income had significant direct effects on social exclusion. Participants with higher levels of education reported increased social-cultural exclusion. High levels of perceived discrimination were associated with higher levels of social exclusion on all dimensions. Participants who identified as Muslim, and participants with poor health reported higher levels of social exclusion. Higher income, and increased years of U.S. residence were associated with lower levels of social exclusion.

Conclusion: Findings highlight the need for a nuanced understanding of possibly complex interactions of factors that facilitate risk of exclusion for African immigrants in the United States. Results from this study expand our knowledge of the understudied area of African immigrants and provides an important contribution to previous research by extending the social exclusion discussion to African immigrants in the United States. Programs and policies that aim at fostering the inclusion of this immigrant group should go beyond socioeconomic interventions and focus also on tackling structural barriers and discrimination in all its forms.