Ethnic density, social support, and loneliness among Chinese immigrants in Philadelphia

Marilyn Tseng, Emily Walton, Elizabeth Handorf, Carolyn Y. Fang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Living in more ‘ethnically dense’ areas is thought to promote health, possibly by facilitating social support and a sense of belonging. Because of kin networks and cultural obligations, family relationships may be particularly important for Asian immigrants. Chinese-origin individuals are the largest group of Asian Americans and among the most highly segregated, but the psychosocial benefits of living in Chinese neighborhoods are not established. We examined whether Chinese immigrants in areas of higher ethnic density report more social support from family and friends, and less loneliness. For 606 participants recruited 1/2016-5/2019 throughout the Philadelphia region, residences were linked to American Community Survey 2013-2017 data. Ethnic density, operationalized as percent of Census tract residents who were Chinese, was categorized into quintiles. Family/friend support and loneliness were self-reported, then dichotomized to distinguish high levels of family support, friend support, and loneliness. In logistic regression adjusting for age, sex, and individual- and tract-level socioeconomic characteristics, ethnic density was associated with high family support (odds ratio (OR) 1.85, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.09, 3.11) for highest vs. lowest ethnic density quintile)) and inversely associated with loneliness (OR 0.31, 95% CI 0.12, 0.79, highest vs. lowest quintile). Our findings support the hypothesis that residents of areas with higher ethnic density report more social support from family and less loneliness. Whether these benefits arise from characteristics of the community overall or from the aggregation of individual assets remains to be clarified but has implications for efforts to develop community resources that would benefit all their residents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100050
JournalWellbeing, Space and Society
Volume2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Ethnic density
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Immigrant health
  • Loneliness
  • Social support

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