Thus, inter-generational "assimilation tends to lower psychological well-being to the levels experienced by native-born adolescents" (Harker pp).
One of the most significant demographic developments during the last few decades has been the increasing numbers of Asian immigrants to the United States, in fact, Koreans are now one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the country (Sales pp). In the August 02, 2002 issue of the Journal of Social Psychology, Esther Sales revealed findings from her study, which found acculturation was directly related to higher depression among Korean immigrants who reported abandonment of Korean identity, tradition, and values (Sales pp).
Immigration is a stressful process for people who have uprooted their families from foreign countries and find themselves trying to adjust to a new society with different cultural norms and social conditions (Sales pp). Researchers note that recently arrived Korean immigrants are particularly fragile with respect to their psychological well-being (Sales pp). Evidence shows that the psychological well-being of Korean immigrants is less than optimal, and according to one 1990 study, high levels of stressful experiences were reported by this cultural minority (Sales pp). In a 1984 study, Korean immigrants reported higher levels of depressive symptoms than did Filipino, Japanese, or Chinese immigrants, and a 1992 study of Korean immigrants in Canada, found elevated levels of psychological distress (Sales pp).
Sales notes that "explanations of the psychological consequences of the acculturation process emphasize cultural differences" (Sales pp). Defining acculturation as the process of cultural change resulting from contact between distinctive cultural groups, C.W. Kiefer, "suggested that the structural confusion, cultural conflict, and cultural alienation that occur in the acculturation process would disturb the drives toward clarity, consistency, and continuity, thus becoming sources of stress" (Sales pp).
Empirical studies, examining theories of acculturative stress, suggest that Korean immigrants were acculturated to U.S. culture but kept their identification with Korean culture and maintained social ties in the ethnic community (Sales pp). A 1985 study by Kiefer attributed the higher scores for psychological symptoms among older Korean-Americans, compared with a Caucasian sample, to the stress associated with acculturation (Sales pp). Another study by W.M. Hurh and K.C. Kim did not find "any significant effect of Americanization itself on the mental health of adult Korean immigrants, but they found an effect for length of residence, an indirect indicator of acculturation" (Sales pp). Korean-American students believed that parental traditionalism was associated with higher depression (Sales pp). Confronting different cultural norms can cause discomfort, "described as acculturative stress, or stress arising uniquely from the process of acculturation," thus for stress in general one may expect acculturative stress to increase depressive symptoms (Sales pp).
Sales' study found that after an average of five to six years in the United States, Korean immigrants showed only a moderate amount of acculturation to the host culture, "in that their language use, interpersonal relationships, subjective identity, and cultural practices were more likely to reflect their Korean heritage than the U.S.," however they can be seen as moving toward an equal balance of associations and language preference (Sales pp). Korean immigrants reported higher depression than generally found in U.S.
A community samples and a large minority might be regarded as 'at risk' (Sales pp).
Harker, Kathryn. (2001 March 01). Immigrant Generation, Assimilation, and Adolescent Psychological Well-Being. Social Forces. Retrieved October 22, 2005 from HighBeam Research Library Web site.
Morantz, Carrie A.; Smith, Liz. (2005 August 15). AAP policy on caring for immigrant, migrant, and homeless children. American Family Physician. Retrieved October 22, 2005 at http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3225/is_4_72/ai_n15623978
Pritchard, Justin. (2004 May 27). Life Expectancy High for Immigrants in U.S.
Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved October 22, 2005 from HighBeam Research Library Web site.
Sales, Esther. (2002 August 01). Acculturation, stress, and depressive symptoms among Korean Immigrants in the United States. The Journal of Social Psychology. Retrieved October 22, 2005 from HighBeam Research Library Web site.
Acculturation, stress, and depressive symptoms among Korean Immigrants in the United States.(Statistical Data Included)
The Journal of Social Psychology; 8/1/2002; Sales, Esther sample of 157 Korean immigrants responded to measures of acculturation level, stress from acculturation, and depressive symptoms. The authors hypothesized that adaptive acculturation would depend on assimilation regarding social interactions and the host culture's language as well as on retention of a core identity, including values and traditions of the culture of origin. Consistent with the mediation hypothesis,