Rice University study shows bilingual immigrants are healthier
Researchers from Rice University found that bilingual immigrants report higher levels of physical and mental health when compared to unilingual immigrants.
The results of the study were published in the March issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. The study looked at the self-rated health evaluations of more than 4,600 immigrants from China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rica and aligned the results with English and native-language fluency and use.
"Our research suggests that English proficiency gained at the expense of native-language fluency may not be beneficial for overall health status," said Rice alumna and Stanford University graduate student Ariela Schachter, co-author of the research paper, in a press release on the findings.
According to Rice sociology professors Bridget Gorman and Rachel Tolbert Kimbro, who also co-authored the piece, though there may be little known about why a link exists between multilingualism and personal health, they hope this study will encourage further research on the subject.
"Individuals who maintain native-language fluency while also learning English may be better equipped to retain relationships in their countries of origin and form new ones in the U.S.," said Gorman in the release. "We believe this can help explain the positive relationship between bilingualism and self-rated health."
For more information about Rice University's sociology department, visit sociology.rice.edu. To purchase a copy of the March issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior or to read the study's abstract, visit hsb.sagepub.com.
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