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Older immigrants living in US more satisfied with life than native-born counterparts

ANI | Updated: Mar 21, 2019 13:42 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar 21 (ANI): A recent study suggests that people who immigrated to the United States are more satisfied with their lives in the "land of the free" than those who were born here.
As part of the study, a team of researchers found immigrants from white, Hispanic and other racial groups have higher levels of happiness and overall life satisfaction than those born in the United States.
Their findings were published in the February 2019 print edition of the Journal of Aging and Health.
 “We discovered that people who are foreign-born and living in the United States do have higher levels of life satisfaction.  We examined life satisfaction because it is a useful global measure for understanding how people are doing on the whole with regard to how they feel about their life. It's a good way of capturing their overall well-being,” explained Dawn Carr, lead researcher of the study.
Scholars found Hispanic immigrants in the United States had the highest overall life satisfaction of any other racial group. Study participants had lived in the United States for an average of about 30 years.
"The older adult immigrants in our sample adjusted to life in the United States, and they're thriving more than their native-born counterparts," Carr said. "This is particularly true for Hispanics, who maintain their well-being despite having fewer resources than their native-born counterparts. They seem to have developed a life that provides a good old age."
In the past 50 years, scholars have examined a concept known as the "Hispanic Paradox," which refers to the observation that older Hispanic immigrants in the United States tend to have better health outcomes than non-Hispanic whites despite their more limited socioeconomic resources.
"We wanted to see if this was also true for overall well-being," Carr said.
The paradox is believed to stem from cultural and social factors specific to immigrants of Hispanic origin.
"It might be that those cultural factors are quite beneficial in terms of maintaining well-being," Carr said. "For instance, it may be their overall spirituality or sense of community. Studies have shown there are expectations for support in the Hispanic culture. However, we were unable to identify specific mechanisms that explain these effects."
Researchers examined data from more than 7,000 participants 60 years and older who were surveyed for the most recent wave of the Health and Retirement Study in 2014.
The team also found that foreign-born blacks did not report the same increases in overall life satisfaction as compared to other races.
Carr and her colleagues also studied how levels of education were linked with overall life satisfaction. For whites, higher levels of education translated to higher levels of life satisfaction. However, they found for both native and foreign-born blacks, the more education they had, the lower their life satisfaction.
"That was a puzzling discovery," Carr said. "This means that education does not seem to enhance the lives of minorities like we might expect. We do not know the reasons for these trends, but we might guess that factors like discrimination are involved, detracting from their overall happiness. For instance, someone who has a college degree, who is in a job with similarly educated individuals who are not minority, might be more overtly aware of the discrimination they're experiencing."
Researchers found higher levels of education for native-born Hispanics also were associated with lower life satisfaction. (ANI)