To be happy in Canada: do religious participation, transnational economic engagement, and host country language ability relate to immigrant emotional/mental health?

Yu, Meng (Megan) (2022) To be happy in Canada: do religious participation, transnational economic engagement, and host country language ability relate to immigrant emotional/mental health? Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Existing literature has mainly attributed the decline of immigrant health in the host country to labour market inequalities and barriers in accessing healthcare services, as well as immigrants’ acquiring of unhealthy lifestyles. Whether strategies immigrants adopt to adapt to life in the host country have any impact on their emotional or mental health has rarely been examined in the Canadian context. This dissertation departs from previous research by studying whether immigrants’ emotional/mental health is affected when they participate in religious activities to maintain their ethnic or cultural identity, forge transnational economic ties, or have better host country language ability. Data from all three waves of the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC) were analysed to answer the research question asked in this dissertation in three separate manuscripts. The first study in this dissertation found that frequent participation in religious activities is associated with better emotional/mental health status for immigrants. However, compared to those who did not participate in religious activities, female immigrants fared worse if they participated regularly, whereas male participants did not differ in their emotional/mental health status regardless of frequency of religious participation. Religious affiliation did not appear to make a difference to how religious participation relates to immigrants’ emotional/mental health. Findings from the second study indicated that engaging in transnational economic activities can have both positive and negative effects on immigrants’ emotional/mental health. Sending money outside of Canada to relatives or friends was found to harm the emotional/mental health of immigrants who planned to settle permanently in Canada or were unsure of their settlement plan. Among those who planned to settle permanently in Canada, investing in another country had a negative effect on their emotional/mental health, but receiving income from outside the country appeared to protect their emotional/mental health. The last study in this dissertation examined the relationship between host country language ability and immigrants’ emotional/mental health in a bilingual country. It found that, in general, immigrants in Canada with better ability in an official language tend to have worse emotional/mental health. A more nuanced examination revealed that the negative association between official language ability and emotional/mental health existed only among immigrants living in Ontario, the Prairie Provinces, and Quebec when French was considered the host country language. Immigrants with better English language ability in Quebec appeared to have better emotional/mental health than immigrants with worse English ability.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 15879
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references -- Restricted until November 13, 2024
Keywords: immigrant integration, psychological well-being, emotional/Mental health, religious participation, transnationalism, host country language ability
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Sociology
Date: May 2022
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Immigrants--Mental health--Canada; Immigrants--Religious life--Canada; Immigrants-- Social networks--Canada; Social integration--Canada; Immigrants--Canada--Social conditions; Immigrants--Cultural assimilation--Canada; Immigrants--Canada--Psychology; Transnationalism

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