2016년 10월 07일 11시 29분
The inflow of migrant women into South Korea increased notably in the 2000s. Among them, permanent residents and naturalized citizens comprise diverse populations with regard to the purpose of immigration and national origin, which are mainly China and Southeast Asia. Despite the fact that they are distinguishable from temporary immigrants, whether the social environment has been appropriate for them to settle as its members is questionable. In this context, an exploration into their mental health and its social determinants will shed light not only on their adaptation in the society, but also on the social quality in terms of health inequality among its members.
This study is an investigation into the effects of occupying important social roles in the family, at work, and in wider society (i.e., a parent, a worker, and a community member) on the depression of female permanent residents and naturalized citizens from China and Southeast Asia. The State of the Foreign Residents Survey data (the Ministry of Justice, 2012) from 621 women were analyzed. In addition, how the quality of experience in carrying out each role (satisfaction in family life, perceived discrimination, and level of social support, respectively) influenced the depression level was analyzed. Finally, this research paid special attention to the differences in the effects of social roles created by ethnicity, a major factor that leads to divergent mental health outcomes in Korea.
The results of multiple and moderated regression analyses show that the quality of social roles creates the most salubrious effects in lowering the level of depression in general. Moreover, the relationship between occupying a social role and the role quality differs by ethnicity. For Korean-Chinese, assuming a role as a parent or a worker has positive effect on mental health, but the favorable effect of the quality of each role is greater. For Chinese and Southeast Asians, assuming the role as a parent or a community member reduces depression, but the effects are moderated by the role quality: satisfaction in family life moderates the effect of a parent-role in attenuating depression, whereas the effect of a community member-role in diminishing the level of depression is attenuated as they receive more social support.
Overall, the results illuminate the importance of the substantial (not just the nominal) aspects of social roles on mental health. Also, the effects of social roles on migrant women’s mental health differ by type and quality of roles, and ethnicity. Implications from the diversity in social roles’ impact on mental health among migrant populations are discussed.