Thursday, January 21, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Background: Despite constituting the second largest Asian immigrant group in the US, Asian Indians are underrepresented in research on acculturation. Furthermore, existing work on the impact of migratory experience on Asian Americans’ wellbeing has largely focused on acculturation, and not enculturation, i.e. the maintenance of the culture of origin. Prior work has shown that acculturation and enculturation, rather than being two ends of one scale, can have an independent effects on wellbeing. The present paper examines the effects of both acculturation and enculturation on Asian Indian immigrants’ life satisfaction and depressive symptomatology.Methods: Survey data were collected via computer assisted telephone interviews with a representative sample of Gujarati Indians aged 18 to 65 residing in a midwestern area of the US (n = 553). Interviews were conducted in English and Gujarati. Structural equation modeling was used to model acculturation, enculturation, and their relationship with life satisfaction (measured using the 5-item Satisfaction with Life Scale) and depressive symptomatology (measured using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale), holding demographic variables constant. Results: Global fit indices indicated a well fitting model (χ2 = 9.13, p = 0.69; RMSEA = 0.00 (95%CI = [0.00, 0.05]); CFI = 1.00; SRMR = 0.02). Enculturation was found to be associated with life satisfaction (b = 0.13, SE = 0.053, p = 0.012 (standardized)), holding acculturation and all covariates constant. In contrast, acculturation was not associated with life satisfaction (b = 0.084, SE = 0.054, p = 0.12). Enculturation was negatively associated with depression (b = -0.14, SE = 0.050, CR = -2.79, p = 0.005), whereas acculturation was positively associated with depression (b = 0.13, SE = 0.051, CR = 2.45, p = 0.014). Conclusions: Unlike some prior studies on acculturation and enculturation in Asian Americans, enculturation was found to be linked with higher life satisfaction and lower depression, whereas acculturation was associated with higher depression. These results suggest the need to disaggregate research on Asian Americans by ethnic origin, and that both acculturation and enculturation should be considered when working with Gujarati Indian immigrants.