Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis_access.pdf (541.77 kB)

Mental Health Outcomes of Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Youth in New Zealand: Exploring the Immigrant Paradox

Download (541.77 kB)
posted on 2021-11-12, 02:04 authored by Spijkers, Floor Elisabeth

The Immigrant Paradox can be defined as the counterintuitive finding that immigrants show better adaptation outcomes than their non-immigrant peers despite their often poorer socio-economic conditions (Sam, Vedder, Ward, & Horenczyk, 2006). However, the advantage observed in first-generation immigrants is often diminished, if not lost, by the second generation. The current study explored the Immigrant Paradox by looking at well-being and depressive symptoms in a total of 7053 European, Asian, Pacific, and ‘Other’ secondary school youth in New Zealand. The mental health outcomes of first-generation, second-generation and non-immigrant youth were compared with a set of one-way ANOVAs. In addition, hierarchical regressions were performed to identify the role of acculturation, perceived discrimination and ethnicity in the relation between immigrant generation and the mental health outcomes. The findings indicated support for the Immigrant Paradox in only one instance, specifically in the well-being of first- and second-generation Pacific youth in comparison to their non-immigrant peers. Although results varied across ethnic groups, overall results indicated that non-immigrant youth had better mental health outcomes than immigrant youth and that second-generation adolescents had better outcomes than their first-generation peers. In addition, although acculturation and perceived discrimination were both significant predictors of mental health, these factors did not eliminate generational differences in either depressive symptoms or well-being. In the end, the Immigrant Paradox seems to exist only in some countries, among some groups, and in terms of some outcome variables. Furthermore, ethnicity was shown to be a critical factor in understanding immigrants’ mental health.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Crosscultural Psychology

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Science

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Psychology


Ward, Colleen; Milfont, Taciano