Unemployment, underemployment and depressive affect among Southeast Asian refugees

Psychol Med. 1993 Aug;23(3):731-43. doi: 10.1017/s0033291700025502.


This study of 1348 adult Southeast Asian refugees resettling in Vancouver, British Columbia and a comparison sample of 319 permanent residents of the city demonstrates a reciprocal relationship between unemployment and depressive affect. Increased risk of depression accompanied job loss and depression made it more difficult to stay employed. Although the association between unemployment and depression was common to both refugee and host society samples, links between these phenomena proved different in the two groups. In contrast to the refugees for whom income loss was the over-riding stress resulting from job loss, loss of esteem and loss of social contact also proved to be salient stressors for resident Canadians. Although a threat to the mental health of resident Canadians, underemployment--working at a level which considering one's education and previous occupation, is lower than might be expected--did not jeopardize the mental health of refugees.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Employment*
  • Ethnic Groups / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept
  • Socioeconomic Factors