Feeling Better With Similar Others? The Role of Social Networks on the Development of Ethnic Identities and Mental Health Outcomes

Tamara van der Does , Santa Fe Institute
Muna Adem, Indiana University

For children of immigrants, the development of ethnic and national identities is an important part of one’s self-concept. An extensive body of research suggests that a strong ethnic identity is associated with several aspects of personal well-being for ethnic and racial minorities, including high self-esteem and low depressive symptoms. Implicit in these studies, yet not explicitly measured, is the role of co-ethnic friendships for influencing both identity salience and health outcomes. While social network research has mainly focused on socio-economic outcomes, ethnic homophily might play an important role for identity development and in turn personal well-being, since friends are often considered the primary sources for evaluation and support of one’s identity. Using a longitudinal dataset in four European countries, we explore the relationship between co-ethnic networks, ethnic identity salience, and mental health.

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 Presented in Session 7. Migration & Urbanization