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Migrant status and child and adolescent psychological well-being: evidence from Hong Kong's ‘Children of 1997’ birth cohort
  1. Cherry Y Leung1,
  2. Gabriel M Leung1,
  3. C Mary Schooling1,2
  1. 1Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China
  2. 2CUNY School of Public Health and Hunter College, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr C Mary Schooling, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong, 5/F William M.W. Mong Block, 21 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China; cms1{at}


Background In Western settings, migration is associated with psychological well-being, but studies inevitably focus on culturally distinct ethnic minorities, making it difficult to distinguish migration from cultural assimilation. Many children in Hong Kong, a developed non-Western setting, have migrant parents with the same Chinese ethnicity. This study examined the association of migration with the child's psychological well-being in Hong Kong.

Methods Multivariable linear regression was used in Hong Kong's ‘Children of 1997’ Chinese birth cohort to examine the adjusted associations of migration (both parents Hong Kong born n=4285, both parents migrant n=1921, mother-only migrant n=462, father-only migrant n=1110) with a parent-reported Rutter score for child behaviour at ∼7 (n=6294, 80% follow-up) and ∼11 years (n=5598, 71% follow-up), self-reported Culture-Free Self-Esteem Inventory score at ∼11 years (n=6937, 88% follow-up) and self-reported Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) depressive symptom score at ∼13 years (n=5797, 73% follow-up), adjusted for sex, highest parental education and occupation, household income, maternal and paternal age at birth, age of assessment and survey mode (PHQ-9 only).

Results Migration was unrelated to the overall self-esteem or depressive symptoms, but both parents migrant was associated with better behaviour (lower Rutter scores) at ∼7 years (β-coefficient (β) −1.07, 95% CI –1.48 to −0.66) and ∼11 years (−0.89, 95% CI −1.33 to −0.45).

Conclusions In a non-Western context, migration appeared to be protective for childhood behaviour.


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