Objectives: To examine associations among perceived racial discrimination, ethnic resources, and mental distress in older Korean Americans. Ethnic resources included ethnic identity (how closely individuals identify themselves with other members of the same ethnic background) and sense of community (individuals’ feelings of belonging to their ethnic group). We examined the direct effect of perceived racial discrimination and these ethnic resources, as well as their interactions, hypothesizing that mental distress associated with perceived racial discrimination would be reduced by ethnic resources. Design: Using survey data from the Study of Older Korean Americans (N = 2,150), linear regression models of mental distress were examined for direct and interactive roles of perceived racial discrimination and ethnic resources. Results: Mental distress was directly associated with perceived racial discrimination (B = 1.90, SE =.20, p <.001), ethnic identity (B = −.41, SE =.13, p <.01), and sense of community (B = −.45, SE =.12, p <.001). Perceived racial discrimination interacted significantly with sense of community (B = −1.86, SE =.28, p <.001). Subgroup analyses suggested that in the context of experiencing racial discrimination, a high sense of community can serve as a buffer against mental distress. Conclusions: Ethnic resources are a benefit in coping with experiences of discrimination. The moderating role of sense of community suggests the value of fostering social capital in ethnic communities to protect and promote older immigrants’ mental health.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Data collection for this work is supported by the National Institute on Aging (R01AG047106, PI: Yuri Jang, Ph.D.). Nan Sook Park, Ph.D. was supported by National Research Foundation of Korea (2020S1A5C2A03092919, PI: Soondool Chung, Ph.D.) Dr. Seunghye Hong’s work on the manuscript was partially supported by the Core University Program for Korean Studies through the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the Korean Studies Promotion Service of the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS-2015-OLU-2250005).
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- ethnic identity
- mental health
- older immigrants
- Racial discrimination
- sense of community