Ethnic Differences in Clinical Depression in the United States: Nativity, Employability, and Occupational Industry

Date
2021
Authors
Avshman, Igal
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Abstract

Objectives There are three objectives for this dissertation project. The first objective is to assess how nativity status among Hispanics impacts their mental health status. The second objective seeks to better understand the relationship between the prevalence of mental health issues and employability for Hispanic groups. Finally, this study examines how the occupational industry chosen impacts reported mental health status among native and immigrant Hispanics. Literature Review As of 2016, the United States is comprised of over forty million immigrants, with a majority of these immigrants being of Latino or Hispanic origin. Studies have determined that racial minorities, such as Hispanic or Latino groups, are disproportionately affected by mental health disorders such as depression. However, significant variations exist among Hispanics according to nativity status. Previous studies have also found that there are higher prevalence rates of depression and mental distress in low-skilled occupations when compared to higher-skilled occupations. This literature review shows that there is a gap in the literature when studying occupation and mental health because seldomly do researchers who study employment focus on the actual occupation versus strictly looking at those employed or unemployed. Data To answer the research questions, restricted data from Waves I, III, and IV of The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, or Add Health, dataset are used. Methods With this data, generalized linear models (GLM) and an ordinal logistic regression (OLR) are used. All models are run in RStudio version 1.4.1717.Results and Implications The results from the three research questions showed that native Hispanics are at a greater risk for clinical depression compared to immigrant Hispanics, regardless of nativity or race/ethnicity status, those who have clinical depression are at a greater risk of being unemployed and being employed for a shorter amount of time compared to those who do not have clinical depression, and that higher prevalence rates of clinical depression in low skilled, elementary, and other occupations is mitigated through sex, nativity, and race/ethnicity variables. My recommendation to policymakers and mental health providers is to focus on placing mental health facilities in areas where there is a higher prevalence of native Hispanics who work in low-skilled occupations and may have lower educational attainment. Limitations There are three main limitations in this research. First, the use of the Add Health dataset where the entire sample is adolescents in Wave I means that by Wave IV, many of the immigrants have lived in the country for numerous years and therefor have similar rates of mental health issues as natives. Second, the relationship between mental health and employment status is endogenous. Lastly, the definition of mental health being a clinical diagnosis causes some bias in the results. Each limitation is addressed through either survey design by picking the right dataset and variables or a necessity to have a sample size that can be properly analyzed.

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Keywords
Risk for clinical depression, Hispanic, Immigration, Nativity, Occupation, depression
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Department
Applied Demography