The aim of this study is to explore the psychological well-being of Polish and Asian immigrant youth in Iceland in comparison with their native peers, and the role of sociodemographic background and social support in explaining ethnic differences.
The study is based on a dataset from the research network Health Behavior in School-Aged Children (HBSC), collected in the school year 2009-2010. A total of 11,561 students aged 11, 13, and 15 years participated in the study. Immigrant status was determined by parents' birthplace dividing the two non-native groups into four: non-mixed Polish, mixed-Polish (one parent born in Poland), non-mixed Asian, and mixed-Asian (one parent born in Asia). Data were analyzed by means of hierarchical multiple regression.
Less life-satisfaction and more distress was reported in all non-native groups compared with natives. The outcomes were more negative for youth of mixed ethnic origin. Initial ethnic differences in life-satisfaction and distress disappeared or were substantially reduced when sociodemographic background and social support were controlled. A key finding is that non-native youth more often live in challenging socioeconomic circumstances and experience less access to social support than their native peers.
Emphasis should be placed on actions that aim to create better sociodemographic conditions and supportive environments for immigrant families. In particular, special effort to foster a supportive school environment for immigrant youth is suggested.