The Healthy migrant effect on depression: variation over time?

Zheng Wu, Christoph M. Schimmele


Growing international evidence supports the epidemiological paradox that
immigrants have better overall health than non-immigrants, including lower
levels of depression. But whether length of residence in the host population
modifies this effect on depression is not well understood. We examine a large,
heterogeneous sample of Canadians to investigate three possible trajectories of depression within the immigrant population. We present hypotheses testing if the depression rate among immigrants improves, deteriorates, or undergoes nonlinear change over time. Our results confirm the so-called “healthy migrant effect” and show that visible minority immigrants are especially healthy. However, soon after arrival in Canada, depression among immigrants increases for several decades. Policy implications of the findings are discussed.

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