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Gender, income and immigration differences in depression in Canadian urban centres

Smith KL, Matheson FI, Moineddin R, Glazier RH. Can J Pub Health. 2007; 98(2):149-53.

Background — Immigrants tend to initially settle in urban centres. It is known that immigrants have lower rates of depression than the Canadian-born population, with the lowest rates among those who have arrived recently in Canada. It is established that women and low-income individuals are more likely to have depression. Given that recent immigration is a protective factor and female gender and low income are risk factors, the aim of this study was to explore a recent immigration-low income interaction by gender.

Methods — The study used 2000-01 Canadian Community Health Survey data. The sample consisted of 41,147 adults living in census metropolitan areas. Logistic regression was used to examine the effect of the interaction on depression.

Results — The prevalence of depression in urban centres was 9.17% overall, 6.82% for men and 11.44% for women. The depression rate for recent immigrants was 5.24%, 3.87% for men and 6.64% for women. The depression rate among low-income individuals was 14.52%, 10.79% for men and 17.07% for women. The lowest-rate of depression was among low-income recent immigrant males (2.21%), whereas the highest rate was among low-income non-recent immigrant females (11.05%).

Conclusions — This study supports previous findings about the effects of income, immigration and gender on depression. The findings are novel in that they suggest a differential income effect for male and female recent immigrants. These findings have implications for public health planning, immigration and settlement services and policy development.

Keywords: Ethnicity and culture Social determinants of health Depression