Migration, social mobility and common mental disorders: critical review of the literature and meta-analysis

J. Das-Munshi*, G Leavey, S A Stansfeld, M J Prince

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Objective. Changes in socio-economic position in people who migrate may have adverse associations with mental health. The main objective of this review was to assess the association of social mobility with common mental disorders in migrant and second-generation groups, to inform future research.

Design. Systematic review and meta-analysis of English-language studies assessing the association of social mobility in migrant or second-generation groups with common mental disorders. Approaches to operationalise ‘social mobility’ were reviewed.

Results. Twelve studies (n=18,548) met criteria for retrieval. Very few included second-generation groups, and most studies were cross-sectional in design. Approaches to operationalise ‘social mobility’ varied between studies. Downward intragenerational social mobility was associated with migration in the majority of studies. Random effects meta-analysis (n=5179) suggested that migrants to higher income countries who experienced downward mobility or underemployment were more likely to screen positive for common mental disorders, relative to migrants who were upwardly mobile or experienced no changes to socio-economic position. Conclusions on second-generation groups were limited by the lack of research highlighted for these groups. Downward intragenerational mobility associated with migration may be associated with vulnerability to common mental disorders in some migrant groups.

Conclusion. Given the increasing scale of global migration, further research is needed to clarify how changes to socio-economic position associated with international migration may impact on the mental health of migrants, and in their children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-53
Number of pages37
JournalEthnicity and Health
Volume17
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • PSYCHIATRIC-DISORDERS
  • migration
  • HEALTH RESEARCH
  • SOCIOECONOMIC POSITION
  • MIGRANTS
  • refugees
  • CANADA
  • ILLNESS
  • ethnic minorities
  • socioeconomic status
  • social mobility
  • IMMIGRANTS
  • UNDEREMPLOYMENT
  • MORTALITY
  • common mental disorders
  • ETHNIC INEQUALITIES

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