Changes in socio-economic position in people who migrate may have adverse associations
with mental health. The main objective of this review was to assess the association
of social mobility with common mental disorders in migrant and second-generation groups,
to inform future research.
Systematic review and meta-analysis of English-language studies assessing the association
of social mobility in migrant or second-generation groups with common mental disorders.
Approaches to operationalise 'social mobility' were reviewed.
Twelve studies (n=18,548) met criteria for retrieval. Very few included second-generation
groups, and most studies were cross-sectional in design. Approaches to operationalise
'social mobility' varied between studies. Downward intragenerational social mobility
was associated with migration in the majority of studies. Random effects meta-analysis
(n=5179) suggested that migrants to higher income countries who experienced downward
mobility or underemployment were more likely to screen positive for common mental
disorders, relative to migrants who were upwardly mobile or experienced no changes
to socio-economic position. Conclusions on second-generation groups were limited by
the lack of research highlighted for these groups. Downward intragenerational mobility
associated with migration may be associated with vulnerability to common mental disorders
in some migrant groups.
Given the increasing scale of global migration, further research is needed to clarify
how changes to socio-economic position associated with international migration may
impact on the mental health of migrants, and in their children.