Cross Border Ties and Arab American Mental Health

Goleen Samari, University of California, Los Angeles

Due to greater discrimination, Arab Americans are at an increasing risk for mental health disorders. In immigrant health research, the role of the country of origin receives little attention compared to the process of adjustment in the destination context. In this paper, I examine whether mental health differs across generations of Arab Americans and whether cross border ties or ties to the country of origin lead to greater mental well being, measured by the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale and self-reported happiness. Using the 2003 Detroit Arab American Survey (N=896), my estimates suggest that first generation Arab Americans have more psychological distress compared to third generation or native-born Arab Americans. Importantly, those who engage in more cross border ties are associated with higher reports of psychological distress and lower reports of happiness. For both foreign and native-born Arab Americans, cross border ties to country of origin actually decrease mental well being.

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 Presented in Session P6. Migration and Urbanization/Population, Development, and the Environment