Racial discrimination and psychological distress: the impact of ethnic identity and age among immigrant and United States-born Asian adults

Dev Psychol. 2008 May;44(3):787-800. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.44.3.787.


The association between racial and ethnic discrimination and psychological distress was examined among 2,047 Asians (18 to 75 years of age) in the National Latino and Asian American Study, the first-ever nationally representative study of mental health among Asians living in the United States. Stratifying the sample by age in years (i.e., 18 to 30, 31 to 40, 41 to 50, 51 to 75) and nativity status (i.e., immigrant vs. U.S.-born), ethnic identity was tested as either a protective or exacerbating factor. Analyses showed that ethnic identity buffered the association between discrimination and mental health for U.S.-born individuals 41 to 50 years of age. For U.S.-born individuals 31 to 40 years of age and 51 to 75 years of age, ethnic identity exacerbated the negative effects of discrimination on mental health. The importance of age and immigrant status for the association between ethnic identity, discrimination, and well-being among Asians in the United States is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asian Americans / psychology*
  • Depression / ethnology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prejudice*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Desirability
  • Social Identification*
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • United States