Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Feeling Blue by Extension: Intrafamily Transmission and Economic Pressures Explain the Native-Immigrant Gap in Well-Being among Youth in Switzerland

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Abstract:  Several factors explain the native-immigrant gap in well-being frequently found among adolescents and young adults. First, discrimination and integration challenges impact the psychological health of immigrants of all ages. Though rarely studied, low parental well-being is transmitted thereby also deteriorating youth well-being. Second, individuals with an immigrant background generally endure economic pressures to a greater extent than natives, which impact children through a lower parental well-being independently of origins. These factors—intrafamily transmission of negative affect and economic pressures—have been mostly studied separately (and only rarely for the former). Combining the two, the present study uses Swiss Household Panel data to examine the extent to which immigrant background and economic pressures relate to well-being of adolescents and young adults through the negative affect experienced by their mothers and fathers. In Switzerland, young people with an immigrant background—both immigrants and dual citizens—reported being more anxious, sad and depressed than natives. Path models showed that young people with foreign roots were more likely to live in a household that experienced economic pressures, which, in turn, related to impaired parental (mothers and fathers alike) well-being and finally their own. An immigrant background, economic pressures and parental well-being were also independently related to young people’s negative affect, highlighting the complexity of the factors underlying the well-known immigrant–native gap in well-being.

Keywords:  economic pressure; health; immigration; parental transmission; Swiss Household Panel; well-being



© Oriane Sarrasin, Eva G. T. Green, Gina Potarca, Claudio Bolzman, Ursina Kuhn. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.