The association between discrimination and psychological and social well-being: A population-based study of Russian, Somali and Kurdish migrants in Finland

Anu Emilia Castaneda, Shadia Rask, Päivikki Koponen, Jaana Maria Suvisaari, Seppo Kalervo Koskinen, Tommi Taneli Härkänen, Simo Mannila, Kari Marko-Juhani Laitinen, Pirjo Jukarainen, Inga Jasinskaja-Lahti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Background. Discrimination is known to negatively affect the psychological well-being of migrants. Less is known on the association between discrimination and social well-being.

Aim. We examined the association between experienced discrimination and psychological (mental health, quality of life) and social well-being (loneliness, feelings of safety, trust towards society) in Russian, Somali and Kurdish migrants in Finland.

Methods. We used data from the Finnish Migrant Health and Wellbeing Study (Maamu). The participants comprised 1795 persons of Russian, Somali or Kurdish origin aged 18–64 years. Experiences of discrimination, loneliness, safety and trust towards society were measured using interview questions. Mental health symptoms were measured using the HSCL-25 and quality of life using EUROHIS-QOL. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to investigate the associations between discrimination and psychological and social well-being, separately for the three ethnic groups.

Results. Discrimination increased the odds for mental health symptoms and decreased the odds for quality of life among Russian and Kurdish migrants, but not Somalis. Discrimination was associated with feeling unsafe and decreased trust towards society among all migrants. Among Kurds, discrimination increased the odds also for loneliness.

Conclusions. Discrimination is an essential threat to the psychological and social well-being of Russian, Somali or Kurdish migrants.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology and Developing Societies
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)270-292
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 5144 Social psychology

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