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Occupational health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities: current findings and new research directions.
Eggerth-DE; Flynn-MA; Leong-F; Roberts-R
Work, Stress, and Health 2013: Protecting and Promoting Total Worker Health(TM), The 10th International Conference on Occupational Stress and Health, May 16-19, 2013, Los Angeles, California. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2013 May; :1
The workforce in America is becoming increasingly diverse. Therefore, any effort to understand occupational stress will also need to address issues of occupational health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities. In this symposium, we propose that an important approach to understanding occupational stress and well-being among racial and ethnic minority workers is to integrate the occupational health disparities paradigm into work stress research. As such, the presentations will provide a review of the existing literature on occupational health disparities for Latinos, Asian Americans, and African Americans and will discuss the relevant occupational stress and mental health literature for each group. Within racial and ethnic minority groups, it is often the immigrant subpopulation that is more vulnerable to health disparities. It is estimated that there are over 38 million immigrants living in the United States (Pew Hispanic Center, 2010). The majority of immigrants (61%) originate from two geographic areas. The larger group (16 million) is from Latin America. Passel and Cohn (2009) estimate that 9.6 million of the Latino immigrants are undocumented. The next largest immigrant group (7.2 million) is from South and East Asia (Pew Hispanic Center, 2010). It is estimated that 1.5 million of these Asian immigrants are undocumented (Passel, 2006), making them the second largest unauthorized immigrant group in the United States. Although comprising a smaller percentage of the immigration population, approximately 8% of Blacks are foreign born from predominately Caribbean and African nations and they face unique socioeconomic challenges different from U.S. born Blacks (Mason & Austin, 2011). Passel and Cohn (2009) report that undocumented immigrants tend to be more poorly educated than either authorized immigrants or native-born citizens. In addition to barriers of language, culture, and documentation status, many unauthorized immigrants have limited employment opportunities due to low levels of education. It is not surprising that Hudson (2007) found evidence that citizenship status accounts for more variance in predicting occupation than race or gender. Orrenius and Zavodny (2009) report that due to having a very restricted range of employment opportunities, immigrants are far more likely to work in dangerous, low wage jobs than native-born workers. Consequently, these immigrants are more likely to be killed or injured on the job, and are less likely to have health insurance than native-born workers. Although African Americans are not immigrants, they are often in direct competition with these immigrants groups for jobs. As such they share similar problems and face similar risks. The first presentation will provide an overview of the occupational health disparities experienced by Latino immigrant workers in the United States. These workers suffer significantly higher rates of workplace fatalities and injuries than workers in general. This group initially experience low rates of mental health problems after immigrating. However, with increased duration in the United States, they rates for these problems increase until they match population norms. The second presentation will provide an overview of the occupational health disparities experienced by Asian immigrant workers in the United States. The plight of many of these workers is hidden as they are concentrated behind the scenes in service or manufacturing jobs. In addition, their concerns have been overlooked because of the popular stereotype of Asian immigrants as being the "model minority" - academically oriented, motivated to succeed, and economically successful. The third presentation will provide an overview of the health disparities experienced by African Americans in the United States. Although the evidence for occupational health disparities has been mixed, this group clearly experiences significant health disparities when compared to nearly any other group in the United States. A persuasive case can be made linking occupational stressors to the health disparities of this group. Each presentation will include recommendations for future research.
Total-Worker-Health; Racial-factors; Job-stress; Stress; Mental-health; Injuries; Mortality-rates
Work, Stress, and Health 2013: Protecting and Promoting Total Worker Health(TM), The 10th International Conference on Occupational Stress and Health, May 16-19, 2013, Los Angeles, California
Page last reviewed: April 12, 2019
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division