Socioeconomic Status of Immigrants in Canada:
Another study conducted on refugees from different parts of Asia settling in Canada finds that such communities are more susceptible to stress-related illness such as depression. Most of the refugees did not know English or French initially. How well they learned these languages during the course of their refuge is quite interesting. About one in ten of them did not learn the new language even a little, even after a decade of living in the new country. Those who could find employment easily also improved their language substantially, increasing their future chances of employment. This means – employment being an indicator of SES – those in the higher strata of the socioeconomic ladder within the community when they first landed in the region has proved to have a significant effect on their quality of life. Those who remained unemployed or found occasional employment also suffered depression more often.
By the end of the first decade in Canada, English language fluency was a significant predictor of depression and employment, particularly among refugee women and among people who did not become engaged in the labor market during the earliest years of resettlement. Study results demonstrate that the mental health salience of risk and protective factors changes according to the phase of resettlement.” (Beiser & Hou 2001, p.1321)
Similar trends are seen in ethnic minorities in Britain. The surveys show that the better quality of life enjoyed by the whites is as much a result of English being their first language for the majority of them. In other words, the non-white ethnic minorities’ major hurdle to social mobility is their non-proficiency in English. This is supported further by the fact that after adjusting for language factors, the overall unemployment figures of whites as well as non-whites are quite similar, although the latter are slightly behind in terms of income earned. The figures are consistent for both men and women (Leslie & Lindley 2001, p.591).
Influence of Maternal mental illness:
More specifically, the mother’s intelligence (verbal and nonverbal), level of education and history of mental illness were found to have an influence on the language development of the child. The child’s cognition proficiency is especially correlated to the mother’s psychological disturbance. Illnesses such as depression and personality disorders are the most damaging. In addition the illness, if the mothers are also abusing drugs and alcohol, the language outcome of the child is much worse (Dehaene-Lambertz & Hertz-Pannier 2006, p.370). Substance abusing mothers were found to have inadequate parenting skills. Since they themselves are emotionally deprived to an extent, their show of affection and love for their child in the form of verbal exchanges is also limited to the extent. Needless to say, it is found that mothers belonging to lower SES are also more severely addicted to drugs. Subsequently, they are more emotionally volatile and under chronic mental stress, all having a malefic impact on the language and cognitive development of the child. The other care-givers in such an environment are less inclined to form strong bonds with the child and thus negatively impacting its development. The other caregivers themselves might be into substance abuse, including usage of marijuana, alcohol and tobacco.
Beiser, Morton, and Hou Feng. (Nov 15, 2001). “Language acquisition, unemployment and depressive disorder among Southeast Asian refugees: a 10-year study.” Social Science & Medicine 53.10 : 1321.
Dehaene-Lambertz, Ghislaine, Lucie Hertz-Pannier, and Jessica Dubois. (July 2006) “Nature and nurture in language acquisition: anatomical and functional brain- imaging studies in infants.” Trends in Neurosciences 29.7 : 367(7).
Leslie, Derek, and Joanne Lindley. (Nov 2001). “The impact of language ability on employment and earnings of Britain’s ethnic communities”, Economica 68.272 : 587(20).
Mendelsohn, Alan L., Leora N. Mogilner, Benard P. Dreyer, Joel A. Forman, Stacey C. Weinstein, Monica Broderick, Karyn J. Cheng, Tamara Magloire, Taska Moore, and Camille Napier. (Jan 2001). “The Impact of a Clinic-Based Literacy Intervention on Language Development in Inner-City Preschool Children.”, Pediatrics 107.1 : 130.