Volume 34 - Article 8 | Pages 243–258  

Remittances and risk of major depressive episode and sadness among new legal immigrants to the United States

By Eliva Ambugo, Jenjira Yahirun


Background: The impact of remittances on health problems like depression among immigrants is understudied. Yet immigrants may be particularly emotionally vulnerable to the strains and benefits of providing remittances.

Objective: This study examines the association between sending remittances and major depressive episode (MDE) and sadness among legal immigrants in the United States.

Methods: Cross-sectional data (N=8,236 adults) come from the New Immigrant Survey (2003-2004), a representative sample of new U.S. permanent residents.

Results: In logistic regression models, immigrants who remitted had a higher risk of MDE and sadness compared to those who did not, net of sociodemographic and health factors. For remitters (N=1,470), the amount of money was not significantly linked to MDE but was associated with a higher risk of sadness among refugees/asylees compared to employment migrants.

Conclusions: Among socioeconomically vulnerable migrants such as refugees/asylees, sending remittances may threaten mental health by creating financial hardship. Initiatives that encourage economic stability for migrants may protect against depression.

Author's Affiliation

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