Immigrant Minorities in Canada at Higher Risk for PTSD

Of note:

Immigrant minority groups had higher rates of PTSD than both Canada-born minorities and white immigrants. Socioeconomic status, health, and nutrition also played a role according to a study published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

The researchers used data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), which includes Canadians age 45-85. A random selection of participants were invited to participate. More than 30,000 adults participated. Researchers assessed PTSD, ethnicity, immigration status, demographic information, health status, and nutrition information.

PTSD prevalence among minority immigrants (7.5%) was more than double that of white immigrants (3.6%, p < 0.001), and about 50% higher than Canada-born whites (5.6%, p = 0.008). Prevalence did not differ significantly between immigrant and Canada-born minority members (4.9%, p = 0.19). Researchers attribute this to the small sample size of the latter.

Looking at demographic and socioeconomic variables, adults age 45-55, those who earned less than C$100,000 per year, and those who were widowed, divorced, or separated had higher odds of PTSD. Participants who reported at least 2 health conditions, who had chronic pain, who smoked, and who had a low waist-to-height ratio had higher odds of PTSD.

Adults who consumed fiber-rich foods less than 3 times a day had lower rates of PTSD than adults who consumed only 1 source of fiber. Adults who ate a lot of pastries and chocolate also had higher rates of PTSD than their non-sweets-eating counterparts.

The study was limited by a sample size restricted to those aged 55 and over and cross-sectional data. Information about traumatic experiences which may have caused PTSD was not available.

“This investigation provides important insights for policy and program development to mitigate PTSD among mid-age and older adults, particularly for marginalized groups such as visible minority immigrants,” the researchers concluded. “Future investigations that use estimate models such as these as well as longitudinal analyses may better inform mental health practice and policies to both prevent and treat PTSD.”


Davison KM, Hyland CE, West ML, et al. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in mid-age and older adults differs by immigrant status and ethnicity, nutrition, and other determinants of health in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA). Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. Published online February 3, 2021. doi:10.1007/s00127-020-02003-7

Source: Immigrant Minorities in Canada at Higher Risk for PTSD

Most of the 23 million immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 election live in just five states

Useful perspective and comparisons:

About one-in-ten people eligible to vote in this year’s U.S. presidential election are immigrants. And most (61%) of these 23 million naturalized citizens live in just five states.

California has more immigrant eligible voters (5.5 million) than any other state, more than New York (2.5 million) and Florida (2.5 million) combined. Texas and New Jersey round out the top five, with 1.8 million and 1.2 million immigrant eligible voters, respectively.

Here is a closer look at immigrant eligible voters in these five states.

How we did this

1Asians make up 43% of immigrant eligible voters in California, the highest of any racial or ethnic group.Nationally, Latinos make up a higher share of immigrant eligible voters than Asians (34% vs. 31%), but the reverse is true in the Golden State, where many Latino immigrants are ineligible to vote because they do not hold U.S. citizenship.

California’s immigrant eligible voters come from many countries. But three origin countries account for 46% of the total: Mexico (1.5 million immigrant eligible voters), the Philippines (604,000 voters) and Vietnam (430,000 voters).

The vast majority of California’s immigrant eligible voters (75%) have lived in the United States for more than 20 years. The share is highest (82%) among California’s Latino immigrant voters. Smaller majorities of Asian (71%), white (71%) and black (59%) immigrant eligible voters in California have lived in the country for at least two decades. English proficiency varies widely among the state’s immigrant eligible voters. For example, 86% of black immigrant eligible voters in California are English proficient, a substantially higher share than among all the state’s immigrant eligible voters (55%).

2New York stands out for the racial and ethnic diversity of its immigrant eligible voters. Asians (26%), Latinos (25%) and whites (25%) make up similar shares of the state’s immigrant eligible voters, while black immigrants (21%) are a slightly lower share.

When it comes to speaking English, black immigrant eligible voters in New York are substantially more likely to be English proficient (89%) than white (66%), Asian (52%) and Latino (47%) immigrant voters.

In New York, no single birth country accounts for a large share of the state’s immigrant eligible voters; about a quarter of foreign-born voters come from the state’s three largest birth countries. Immigrants from the Dominican Republic are the largest single group, with 264,000 eligible voters, followed by China (207,000) and Jamaica (143,000).

3Latinos make up 54% of Florida’s immigrant eligible voters, far higher than the shares of white, black and Asian immigrant voters in the state (17%, 16% and 10% respectively).

Florida’s immigrant voters have varying levels of English proficiency. For example, around half (51%) of Latino immigrant eligible voters are proficient in English, a far lower share than among white (82%) or black (81%) immigrant voters.

With 606,000 voters, Cuban immigrants are the largest group in Florida’s foreign-born electorate. Colombian immigrants, at 190,000, and Haitian immigrants, at 187,000, are the second- and third-largest groups.

4Texas rivals Florida in its share of Hispanic immigrant voters. Roughly half (52%) of all immigrant eligible voters in Texas are Hispanic, a share that trails only Florida (54%) among the top states. Asian immigrants are the second-largest group in Texas at 29%.

Around seven-in-ten immigrant voters in Texas (68%) have lived in the U.S. for more than two decades, similar to the share among all U.S. immigrant voters (68%). However, the share of long-term residents is notably lower among black immigrant voters in Texas (40%).

A high share of black and white immigrant voters in Texas are English proficient (88% and 85%, respectively). Lower shares of Asian (64%) and Hispanic (47%) immigrant voters are proficient. This is similar to the pattern nationally.

By country of birth, Mexican immigrants alone account for 40% of all immigrant voters in Texas, or 736,000 people. The second-largest group, with 130,000 voters, are immigrants from Vietnam, while Indian immigrants, with 115,000 voters, make up the third-largest group in the state.

New Jersey has the highest share of Asian immigrant eligible voters with a bachelor’s degree or higher5New Jersey has a high share of Asian immigrant voters with a college degree. About two-thirds of Asian immigrant voters in New Jersey (66%) have a bachelor’s degree or higher. That’s substantially higher than the share among other immigrant voter groups in the state and the share among immigrant voters in the U.S. overall (36%), including those who are Asian.

Among New Jersey’s 1.2 million immigrant eligible voters, 32% are Latino, 30% are Asian, 25% are white and 11% are black.

Meanwhile, the top birth countries for immigrant eligible voters in New Jersey are India (122,000 voters), the Dominican Republic (103,000) and the Philippines (63,000).

See the table below (or open it as a PDF) for detailed characteristics of immigrant eligible voters in California, New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey and nationally.

Demographics of naturalized citizen eligible voters in select states

Source: Most of the 23 million immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 election live in just five states

Immigrant kids in U.S. deliberately build STEM skills

Similar pattern in Canada (chart above looks at Canadian-born visible minority university and college graduates compared to Not VisMin):

U.S. immigrant children study more math and science in high school and college, which leads to their greater presence in STEM careers, according to new findings from scholars at Duke University and Stanford University.

“Most studies on the assimilation of immigrants focus on the language disadvantage of non-English-speaking immigrants,” said Marcos Rangel, assistant professor at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. “We focus instead on the comparative strength certain immigrant children develop in numerical subjects, and how that leads to majoring in STEM subjects in college.”

About 20 percent of U.S.-born college students major in STEM subjects. Yet those numbers are much higher among immigrants — particularly among who arrive the U.S. after age 10, and who come from countries whose native languages are dissimilar to English, Rangel said. Within that group, 36 percent major in STEM subjects.

“Some children who immigrate to the U.S., particularly older children from a country where the main language is very dissimilar to English, quite rationally decide to build on skills they are relatively more comfortable with, such as math and science,” said Rangel.

Those older immigrant children take more math and science courses in high school, the authors found. Immigrant children arriving after age 10 earn approximately 20 percent more credits in math-intensive courses than they do in English-intensive courses.

This focus continues in college, where immigrant children are more likely to pursue science, technology, engineering and math majors. Those majors, in turn, lead to careers in STEM fields. Previous research has shown that immigrants are more highly represented in many STEM careers.

“Meaningful differences in skill accumulation … shape the consequent contributions of childhood immigrants to the educated labor force,” the authors write.

Source: Immigrant kids in U.S. deliberately build STEM skills

New Crop of Immigrants in Parliament Is Seen as Reflection of Canada – The New York Times

New York Times coverage of Canada’s many immigrant and visible minority MPs (and always nice to be quoted!):

Many factors contributed to the sweeping victory last month by the Liberals, whose leader, Justin Trudeau, will take office as prime minister on Wednesday. But several analysts said that one of the most important factors was the immigration and refugee policies of the losing Conservative government.

In a country that generally prizes immigrants as a source of economic growth and officially encourages newcomers to maintain their ethnic identities, the Conservatives and Prime Minister Stephen Harper were widely seen as anti-Muslim, especially after they made an issue of the face coverings worn by some Muslim women.

“The Conservative government tried to use wedge politics, but in the end, it backfired,” said Andrew Griffith, a former director general of the government office that oversees citizenship matters and the author of a book about multiculturalism in Canada. “It should give any political party in Canada food for thought, food for reflection.”

The move was uncharacteristic even for the Conservatives, who assiduously courted immigrant communities even before they first won power in 2006, particularly in two areas that often decide the balance of power in Parliament: the suburbs of Toronto and Vancouver, British Columbia. The Liberals and the New Democratic Party also seek support there, but the Conservatives often found that their more traditional approach to many social issues found an eager audience.

Canadian law makes it relatively easy to move from landed immigrant to citizen, and Mr. Griffith said that many newcomers became politically active once they could vote. Because Canada’s immigration rules favor well-educated and affluent migrants, ethic communities are also an important source of donations to political parties, not least because the country’s campaign finance laws ban contributions from corporations or unions and set a relatively low ceiling for individuals.

“It’s empowering in that there are groups that can no longer be ignored,” said Arif Virani, 43, a newly elected Liberal lawmaker from Toronto who came to Canada with his parents as an Ismaili Muslim refugee from Uganda in 1972. He noted that in some constituencies, all three major parties ran minority candidates.

At times over the past decade, Jason Kenney, a Conservative cabinet minister, seemed to be appearing at just about every ethnic celebration in the country — a butter-chicken circuit that appeared to take a toll on his waistline. But Mr. Kenney’s courtship of ethnic minorities, Mr. Griffith said, was undone when the Conservative government decided to make it harder for recent immigrants to bring in relatives, when it was slow to accept Syrian refugees and when it tried to ban the niqab, or face covering, during citizenship ceremonies. Mr. Harper’s use of the phrase “old-stock Canadians” on the campaign trail made matters worse.

Mr. Griffith reckons that there are 33 electoral districts where a majority of voters belong to what are known in Canada as visible minority groups — people who are not of white European extraction. All 33 districts are in the suburbs of Toronto or Vancouver, and many were held by Conservatives until last month, when Liberals won in all but three of them.

Canada first introduced a policy of official multiculturalism, recognizing the differences in Canadians’ heritage, in 1971 under Pierre Elliott Trudeau, a Liberal prime minister and the father of Justin Trudeau. Initially, the policy provided funds for programs like language classes, but it has since evolved into a broad legal protection of religious and ethnic differences.

Though it was contentious at first, the policy is now frequently cited by Canadians as a defining characteristic of their country — though both Mr. Griffith and Mr. Virani say it has limits.

Canadians tend to think that, where the United States assimilates immigrants’ cultures in a melting pot, Canada allows all cultures to flourish. But Mr. Virani said that the contrast was “a little bit more gray than that.”

Voters appeared to reject Mr. Harper’s plan to ban face coverings during citizenship ceremonies, but Mr. Griffith said there was still widespread unease about the practice of wearing them, which many Canadians believe limits the participation of Muslim women in society.

Still, despite the tenor of the Conservatives’ last campaign, all the major Canadian political parties favor encouraging immigration. New arrivals account for two-thirds of Canada’s population growth, an important factor in a country where there are now more citizens over 65 than under 15. Geography helps form that pro-immigration consensus by making it difficult to slip into the country as an illegal immigrant or a refugee.

“You can’t walk to Canada, apart from the U.S., so we don’t have a neighbor that generates a lot of refugees or immigrants coming across,” Mr. Griffith said. “That helps the discussion.”

Source: New Crop of Immigrants in Parliament Is Seen as Reflection of Canada – The New York Times