Immigrant status, living arrangements, and depressive symptoms among middle-aged and older adults

Janet M. Wilmoth, Pei Chun Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Objectives. This research draws from social integration theory to explain the relationship between living arrangements and depressive symptoms among middle-aged and older adults. Particular attention is given to identifying differences between nonimmigrants and immigrants. Methods. The data come from the baseline and first 2-year follow-up of the Health and Retirement Study, which were collected in 1992 and 1994. The analysis is based on 6,391 primary respondents who were aged 51 to 61 at the baseline. Descriptive statistics, cross-sectional ordinary least squares regression models, and longitudinal residualized regression models are estimated for the entire sample and by immigrant status. Results. Living arrangements and immigrant status interact to influence depressive symptoms. The results confirm that depressive symptoms are higher among those who live alone, particularly among immigrants. Living with family or others is related to higher cross-sectional levels of depressive symptoms, especially for immigrants, and greater longitudinal increases in depressive symptoms among nonimmigrants. Discussion. The results highlight the important influence of social integration on mental health while demonstrating that context shapes the effect of social integration. They suggest that interventions should promote social integration, particularly among older adults living alone or with family or others. However, those programs should be sensitive to the unique needs of native-born and immigrant populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S305-S313
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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