Mental health of aging immigrants and native-born men across 11 European countries

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2013 Mar;68(2):298-309. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbs163. Epub 2013 Jan 16.


Objectives: Though working-age immigrants exhibit lower mortality compared with those domestic-born immigrants, consequences of immigration for mental health remain unclear. We examine whether older immigrants exhibit a mental advantage and whether factors believed to underlie immigrant vulnerability explain disparities.

Method: The sample includes 12,247 noninstitutionalized men more than 50 years in 11 European countries. Multivariate logistic regression models estimated the impact of physical health, health behaviors, availability of social support, social participation, citizenship, time since immigration, socioeconomic status (SES), and employment on the mental health of immigrants.

Results: Immigrants face 1.60 increased odds of depression despite a physical health advantage, evidenced by 0.74 lower odds of chronic illness. SES and availability of social support were predictive, though acculturation measures were not. Decomposition analysis revealed that only approximately 20% of the variation in depression rates between immigrants and native-born peers were explained by commonly cited risk factors.

Conclusions: Despite physical health advantages, older immigrants suffer substantially higher depression rates. Time since immigration does not appear to mitigate depressive symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Health Status
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales