Volume 34 - Article 8 | Pages 243–258 Author has provided data and code for replicating results

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

By Eliva Ambugo, Jenjira Yahirun

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Date received:13 Mar 2015
Date published:27 Jan 2016
Word count:2470
Keywords:depression, gender, immigration, refugees, remittances, United States
Additional files:readme.34-8 (text file, 4 kB)
 demographic-research.34-8 (zip file, 3 MB)


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

Eliva Ambugo - Universitetet i Oslo, Norway [Email]
Jenjira Yahirun - University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, United States of America [Email]

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