Effects of Neighborhood Discrimination Towards Mainland Immigrants on Mental Health in Hong Kong
Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, GH305, 11 Yuk Choi Road, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR, China
College of Psychology and Sociology, Shenzhen University, Room 517, Technology Building, 3688 Nanhai Ave., Shenzhen 518060, China
Division of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Room 3302, Academic Building, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR, China
Division of Social Science, Center for Applied Social and Economic Research (CASER), The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Room 3374, Academic Building, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR, China
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(6), 1025; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16061025
Received: 24 January 2019 / Revised: 5 March 2019 / Accepted: 15 March 2019 / Published: 20 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neighborhood Environmental Influences on Health and Well-Being)
Using data from a representative sample of Chinese adults who were surveyed in the Hong Kong Panel Study of Social Dynamics (HKPSSD), we estimate the effects of neighborhood discrimination towards immigrants from Mainland China on the mental health of Chinese residents in Hong Kong. Contrary to our expectations, discrimination towards immigrants from Mainland China measured at the neighborhood level is not associated with the poor mental health of post-1997 immigrants; instead, a higher level of immigrant discrimination is associated with a lower level of psychological distress for both post-1997 Mainland immigrants and other Chinese residents in Hong Kong. A functional family also appears to be a consistent predictor of better mental health for both groups. Our findings, therefore, suggest that immigrant discrimination can signify a prejudice that leads to social distance or avoidance and that the post-1997 Mainland immigrants do not have extensive contact with other local residents in Hong Kong. Although local residents’ discriminatory attitudes may not result in aggressive behaviors that have a negative impact on newcomers’ mental health, the social distance between the immigrants and the local residents is still an issue that requires further research and practical attention.