Discussion Paper no. 05-15


This study examines the mental health of Canada’s immigrants, relative to that of the native-born population, and makes a comparison between the longer term (ten or more years of residence) and more recent immigrants. The pattern of mental health may be explained by selectivity, structural strain theory from a macro perspective, or stress theory with a micro approach. Given available data, the study focuses on stress theory which suggests that persons with better mental health are either exposed to fewer stressors, or they cope better with their stress and adversity. The data are from Cycle 1.2 of the Canadian Community Health Survey in 2002. The results confirm a “healthy immigrant effect” and its decline for longer-term immigrants. The various demographic, socio-economic, stress and coping factors are found to be significantly related to mental health, but controls for these factors fails to account for the differences across immigration status, especially the advantage of recent immigrants.