Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 340–347 | Cite as

Perceived Discrimination and Religiosity as Potential Mediating Factors Between Migration and Depressive Symptoms: A Transnational Study of an Indigenous Mayan Population

  • Hugo Salgado
  • Isa Haviland
  • Marcella Hernandez
  • Diana Lozano
  • Ruby Osoria
  • David Keyes
  • Eastern Kang
  • María Luisa Zúñiga
Original Paper


Evidence suggests that in the US perceived discrimination among migrants of Mexican origin is associated with depressive symptoms. Factors that confer resilience, such as religiosity, could serve as a mediating factor in the context of migration stressors. We hypothesized that migration is associated with higher depressive symptoms and that discrimination and religiosity would mediate this relationship in a binational (US and Mexican) sample of indigenous Mexican migrants. We applied path analysis modeling to test our hypotheses with a sample of 650 individuals (n = 583 in Mexico; n = 67 in US). Results indicated that migration experience and current US residence were associated with perceived discrimination, which in turn were associated with a higher risk for depressive symptoms. Among women not living in the US, religiosity was associated with lower perceived discrimination. Discrimination is pervasive among male and female transnational and domestic migrants and religiosity may serve as a protective factor against discrimination for some women.


Migration Mental health Discrimination Maya Religiosity Social support 



We would like to thank the community of Tunkás and Tunkaseños in Mexico and the US for their trust, sincerity, and guidance in making this work possible. This research was supported by the Research Program on Migration and Health (Programa de Investigación en Migración y Salud, PIMSA Cycle 2011–2012), the Health Initiative of the Americas, the University of California, the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego, and the Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, México.

Conflict of interest

The authors state no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hugo Salgado
    • 1
  • Isa Haviland
    • 2
  • Marcella Hernandez
    • 2
  • Diana Lozano
    • 2
  • Ruby Osoria
    • 2
  • David Keyes
    • 3
  • Eastern Kang
    • 1
  • María Luisa Zúñiga
    • 4
  1. 1.Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health (Global Health)San Diego State/University of California, San DiegoSan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Mexican Migration Field Research ProgramUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  4. 4.School of Social WorkSan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA

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