Date of Award

Summer 8-12-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

First Advisor

Matthew D. Gayman

Second Advisor

Charles Jaret

Third Advisor

Meredith J. Greif

Abstract

This study assesses race-ethnic group variations in acculturation experiences by identifying distinct acculturation classes, and investigates the role of these acculturation classes for mental health and group differences in mental health among Latino and Asian immigrants in the United States. Using 2002-2003 the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS), Latent Class Analysis is used to capture variations in immigrant classes (recent arrivals, separated, bicultural and assimilated), and OLS regressions are used to assess the link between acculturation classes and mental health. The findings reveal group differences in acculturation classes, whereby Latino immigrants were more likely to be in the separated class and recent arrivals class relative to Asian immigrants. For both Latinos and Asians, bicultural immigrants reported the best mental health, and separated immigrants and recent arrivals reported the worst mental health. While there was not a significant group difference in mental health at the bivariate level, controlling for acculturation classes revealed that Latinos report better mental health than Asians. Thus, Latino immigrants would actually have better mental health than their Asian counterparts if they were not more likely to be represented in less acculturated classes (separated class and recent arrivals) and/or as likely to be in the bicultural class as their Asian counterparts. Together the findings underscore the nuanced and complex nature of the acculturation process, highlighting the importance of race and ethnic group differences in this process, and demonstrate the role of acculturation classes for race-ethnic group differences in mental health.

Available for download on Thursday, July 21, 2016

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