Psychological wellness and distress among recent immigrants: A four-year longitudinal study in Israel and Germany

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18 Scopus citations


Findings regarding immigrants' psychological wellness and distress are contradictory. Some studies find elevated levels of distress among immigrants, others failed to demonstrate such reactions. We suggest that such inconsistencies may be the result of loose time definitions in immigration studies. It is hypothesized that immigrants enjoy relative psychological wellness in the initial stages after their arrival in the host country (the first 12-16 months) and subsequently, their well-being deteriorates. The study involves families (parents and adolescents) from the former Soviet Union who immigrated to Israel and to Germany. The respondents were assessed with the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) at three time intervals: toward the end of the first year subsequent to their migration, in their second, and again in their fourth year after immigration. The adolescents who immigrated to Israel and to Germany presented good psychological well-being during their first year in the new country. The hypothesis about deterioration in immigrants' psychological wellness after an initially benign phase was confirmed only in regard to the two adolescent groups. Adolescents who immigrated to Israel, however, showed an improvement in their psychological condition later on (the classic U curve), while the condition of their German counterparts continued to deteriorate. Among the parents, different trends were observed: either an improvement in the level of psychological well-being over the years, or no significant change. These results are discussed in light of theoretical models of migration and different environmental factors in the two countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-175
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Migration
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography


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