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The functions of social support in the mental health of male and female migrant workers in China.

According to Gazette of the State Council of the Peoples Republic of China (State Council, 2004), the number of migrant workers in the major cities of China exceeded 98 million in 2003. K. H. Zhang and Song (2003) suggested that between 1979 and 1999, the urban population increased by as many as 222 million people, with more than 10 million people moving to the cities every year. Most migrant workers come from the western and central areas of China, such as Sichuan, Henan, Anhui, Hunan, and Jinagxi provinces, and go to the eastern coastal areas, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Zhejiang, and Fujian provinces. The driving forces behind the rural-urban migration in China include urban-rural income disparity (K. H. Zhang & Song, 2003); surplus labor in agriculture (Koberts, 2000); introduction of the Household Responsibility System in agricultural reform, which has led to the development of township and village enterprises in the countryside (Iredale, Bilik, Sue, Guo, & Hoy, 2001); the disintegration of state-owned enterprises; the emergence of private enterprises and a modernized market economy (Iredale et al., 2001); and policies in some poorer provinces that favor out-migration (Iredale et al., 2001). (Under the Household Responsibility Sytem, although all farmland is still owned by the government, the production and management of the farmland are entrusted to individual households through long-term contracts. During the contract period, the farmers pay taxes to the states and the local governments and keep all the other proceeds for themselves. Not only has the system greatly inspired farmers' production initiative and increased agricultural output, but it has released a large amount of rural labor force from land cultivation.)

The transactional model of stress and coping developed by Lazarus and Folkman (1984) posited that an individual's mental health outcome is influenced by a dynamic interaction among stressors, cognitive appraisal, and coping found in the person. In the migration literature, although there is still a lack of consensus about the specific factors that operate to influence adjustment outcomes (Searle & Ward, 1990), three sets of factors are often placed in this framework: (1) migration stress, (2) intervening factors, and (3) psychological and sociocultural outcomes. The present study adopted a stress and coping framework to examine the relationships among migration stress, mental health, and social support in migrant workers in Shanghai, China. Particularly, it attempted to investigate the mediating and moderating roles played by social support in the relationship between migration stressors and mental health of the migrant workers. The findings provide information on the types of migration stress and the functions of social support in migrant workers in Shanghai, China.


Migration Stress

During the settlement period, migration stress is a potential risk factor that can increase the likelihood of poor mental health outcomes. In China, because of the Hukou system (the household registration system), migrant workers and their families who were not born in the cities cannot register as official residents and therefore are not entitled to subsidized housing, education, social security, or medical benefits. In particular, they do not have the government-required social security premium that is supposed to be paid by employers (Tan, 2000) and thus do not have health insurance or pension plans (Feng, Zuo, & Ruan, 2002). Studies also suggest that they tend to live in poorly sanitized and usually overcrowded dormitories that are provided by their employers or in shared accommodation (J. F. Shen & Huang, 2003); take up physically demanding jobs, such as manual labor, factory work, or jobs in the service sector (Roberts, 2000); and are paid a very low wage (Tan, 2000). In this study, migration stress is defined as the stress that results from exposure to difficulties in handling such survival issues as finding employment, financial problems, feelings of loss, cultural differences, and unmet high expectations when settling in Shanghai.

Studies have consistently revealed that financial and job-related difficulties (Thompson, Hartel, Manderson,Woelz-Stirling, & Kelaher, 2002); language barriers (Vedder & Virta, 2005); poor living conditions (Papadopoulos, Lees, Lay, & Gebrehiwot, 2004); discrimination (Yeh et al., 2003); feelings of loss in social networks, employment, social status, and living environment (Oropeza, Fitzgibbon, & Baron, 1991); difficulties in accepting and handling cultural differences, such as eating habits and value conflicts; and unfulfilled high expectations of the new environment are related to poor mental health among different groups of migrants.

Migration Stress and Mental Health

Only a few studies have attempted to examine the mental health conditions of migrant workers (Fu, Ye, & Chen, 2002; Li, 2004; Shen et al., 1998; Wong & Lee, 2003). Three of the studies were rather small in scale and did not use any validated instruments to measure mental health outcomes. A larger scale study by Q. I. Shen et al. (1998) evaluated the mental health status of 371 young migrant workers in Shenzhen. The researchers found that migrant workers had significantly higher scores in symptoms related to obsession and compulsion, interpersonal sensitivity, and phobia than those of the local workers. In this study, we attempted to find out whether migrant workers who had more migration stress would have poorer mental health.

Studies investigating the effects of migration on the mental health of migrants have produced varied and inconclusive results. Although some studies have found that the migration--integration process induces stressors that lead to more psychological distress symptoms in immigrants (Magwaza & Bhana, 1991), others have failed to demonstrate a higher level of distress among the migrant population (Karno et al., 1989). Some even found better mental health among the migrant groups when compared with the local populations (Sun, Fung, & Kwong, 2000). One possible explanation is that certain protective factors may have served to decrease the likelihood that poor health conditions would surface and to mediate and promote the development of resilience (Smith, 2006).

Social Support

Studies in the migration literature have found that a social network has the potential to provide functional and emotional exchanges for its members (for example, Sherranden & Martin, 1994; Wong & He, 2006). Such exchanges include emotional support, instrumental aid, and information. Tran (1994) and Kamya (1997) argued that the availability of a close network during resettlement is vital for sheltering immigrants from adaptation stressors, either by serving as a social support system or by functioning as an escape hatch from psychiatric ill health. Studies have also consistently found that the perceived availability of social support enhances the mental health of migrant populations (Meadows, Kaslow, Thompson, & Jurkovic, 2005; Wong & He, 2006). In this study, we aimed to examine the functions of social support in the mental health of migrant workers in Shanghai. Particularly, we tried to examine whether migrant workers who perceived themselves as having adequate social support would have better mental health and whether social support moderated or mediated the relationship between migration stress and mental health of male and female migrant workers in Shanghai China. As a moderator, social support appears to decrease the intensity or number of migration stress factors or to aid in acquiring the means and skills required to buffer the effects of stressors (Viswesvaran, Sanchez, & Fisher, 1999). In other words, a migrant worker who is experiencing a high level of stress and perceives himself or herself as having enough support or is able to solicit support to deal with his or her difficulties will have better mental health. As a mediator, the presence of social support as a coping resource significantly determines the relationship between migration stress and mental health of a migrant worker. In the present study, soda! support is defined as the perceived availability of emotional, instrumental, belonging, and esteem support from the social networks of migrant workers in Shanghai.


Research Design

This study adopted a survey method to examine the mental health of migrant workers in Shanghai. Shanghai was chosen as the study site because it has been found to be the largest host city for internal migrants in mainland China and accommodates 3.87 million migrants from other parts of the country. This number represents a 265 percent increase from 1.06 million in 1988 (State Council, 2004).

Sampling Procedure

Migrant workers refers to internal migrants who have been given the legal right to work temporarily in cities in China. This study used a multistage cluster sampling method to choose its participants. According to the Shanghai Municipal Regulations on Immigrants, migrant workers must register with the local community agencies where they are living to receive and renew their Temporary Residency Certificates. The sampling process was as follows: Four of the 20 districts of Shanghai were randomly chosen--Puding New Area, Minghang, Jiading, and Boshan. Four community agencies from each of these four districts were then randomly selected. Community agencies are the root branch (that is, the neighborhood level) of the Shanghai municipal government and have the records of all of the migrant workers who settle in the area. Finally, every 10th migrant worker who was listed in the registry was chosen for an interview. A total of 486 migrant workers who were at least 18 years of age were potential participants, and 475 were eventually interviewed, for a response rate of 98 percent. The few migrant workers who did not participate were not contactable after three attempts or refused to be interviewed.


The research team constructed a Migration Stress Scale for migrant workers in Shanghai on the basis of the general framework of migration stress that was suggested by Wong, Yan, Lo, and Hung (2003). This scale aimed to measure the specific migration stress experienced by the migrant workers. On the basis of the 475 respondents in this study, we conducted an exploratory factor analysis. A four-factor solution was found that accounted for 62 percent of the total variance: Financial and Employment Related Difficulties (14 items); Cultural Differences (seven items); Lack of a Social Life (seven items), and Difficulties in Interpersonal Relationships (five items).The four-point scale (ranging from 1 = no stress to 4 = a lot of stress) measured the severity of the stress experienced by the migrant workers. The minimum and maximum scores of the scale ranged from 33 to 132. The Cronbach's alpha coefficient for the full scale was .93, and for the four subscales it was .91, .78, .80, and .61, respectively.

The Chinese version of the Interpersonal Support Evaluation List (ISEL) (Fong, 2004) was adopted to measure the perceived availability of social support for migrant workers. This is a multidimensional inventory with four subscales: Emotional Support, Social Companionship Support, Tangible Support, and Esteem Support. Each subscale is composed of 10 items and uses a five-point Likert scale that ranges from 1 = totally disagree to 5 = totally agree. The higher the score, the greater the perceived social support received by the respondents. The minimum and maximum scores of the scale ranged from 60 to 240. The Cronbach's alpha coefficient of the full scale and the subscales of the ISEL was .83, .74, .70, .64, and .60, respectively.

The Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) (Derogatis & Mehsaratos, 1983) contains 53 items and is designed to assess the mental health conditions of general and clinical populations, including people as young as 13 years old. These 53 symptoms fall into nine dimensions: somatization, obsession--compulsion, interpersonal sensitivity, depression, anxiety, hostility, phobic anxiety, paranoid ideation, and psychoticism. We used the Chinese version of the BSI that was developed by Cheng and Leong (1993). The respondents were asked to rate these symptoms on a five-point scale ranging from 0 = not at all distressed to 4 = extremely distressed. The minimum and maximum scores of the scale ranged from 0 to 212. The Cronbach's alpha of the nine dimensions ranged from .76 to .88. On the basis of the individual scores of the BSI, Ritsner, Ponizovsky, Kurs, and Modia (2000) developed the Global Severity Index (GSI) thresholds, which determine cases of distress. Individual respondents who had GSI scores equal to or greater than 0.42 (for men) and 0.78 (for women) were considered to have poor mental health.

Data Collection

Migrant workers who had registered with the local community agencies between September 2004 and December 2004 were included as study respondents. Consent was sought from the individual migrant workers at the start of the interview, and the workers were asked to complete the questionnaires themselves at a place that was convenient to them, and in the presence of a student interviewer. The research assistant was there only to answer any queries regarding the questionnaire and to assist those respondents with problems in falling it out. In an average of half an hour the respondents completed the questionnaires.

Data Analysis

Descriptive statistics of the frequencies and means of the demographic variables and of the subscales of migration stress and social support of the male and female migrant workers were first carried out separately. On the basis of the GSI thresholds developed by Ritsner et al. (2000) to determine male and female cases of distress (31), two separate sets of independent sample t tests were used to identify the mentally healthy and unhealthy male and female migrant workers in the sample. Four separate hierarchical regressions using ordinary least squares (OLS) model were also performed to explore the moderating effects of migration stress and social support on the mental health of male and female migrant workers. Essentially, moderating effect is demonstrated by the significance of an interaction effect of migration stress and social support on the mental health of male and female migrant workers (Baron & Kenny, 1986). To examine the mediating effect of social support on the relationship between migration stress and social support, a series of regression analyses was performed, which included the following: regressing the social support on migration stress, regressing the mental health on migration stress, and regressing the mental health on both migration stress and social support (Baron & Kenny, 1986). These three regression equations tested the three conditions that would support a mediating effect of social support. First, there must be a significant association between migration and social support. Second, there must be a significant relationship between migration stress and mental health. And third, social support must significantly affect mental health. If these conditions all hold in the predicted direction, then the effect of migration stress on mental health must be less in the third equation than in the second (Baron & Kenny, 1986).


There was approximately the same number of male and female migrant workers in the sample. The average age was 30 years, with an age range of 18 to 45 (see Table 1). Most of the migrants had junior secondary school education (that is, up to grade 9), and about 23 percent of them had tertiary education (that is, college or university education). About 40 percent of the migrants were manual workers (for example, factory workers), 38 percent were service industry workers (for example, sales), and 20 percent were self-employed (for example, shop and food stall owners). Almost all of them were in full-time employment, with an average monthly income of renminbi (RMB) 1,257 (U.S.$1 = RMB 8). Thirty-six percent of the migrant workers had a very low income of RMB 800 or less. About two-thirds were married, and 52 percent of them had been living in Shanghai for less than a year. Although nearly 71 percent lived by themselves or with their own families, 29 percent shared fiats or lived in factory hostels. The demographic differences between the male and female migrant workers are documented in Table 1. No significant differences were found, except in education and monthly salary. On the whole, the migrant workers in this sample were young and married, had relatively low incomes, and were educated to the junior secondary school level. The sample appears to resemble the population of migrant workers described in the State Statistics Bureau (2001).

The BSI scores of the male and female migrant workers in this study are presented in Table 2. In the present study, 25 percent of men and 6 percent of women could be classified as having poor mental health. There were significant differences in the full scale and the subscales of the BSI scores between the mentally healthy and mentally unhealthy groups for both male and female migrant workers. In particular, in the mentally unhealthy male sample, symptoms that were associated with interpersonal sensitivity, obsession-compulsion symptoms, and hostility ranked the highest among the nine symptom clusters of the BSI. In the mentally unhealthy female sample, however, symptoms that were related to obsession-compulsion, depression, and phobic anxiety ranked the highest.

Two separate hierarchical regressions were performed to examine the independent effects of migration stress and different types of social support on the mental health of male and female migrant workers (see Table 3).The results suggest that financial and employment difficulties and difficulties in interpersonal relationships significantly predicted the mental health of both male and female migrant workers. Migration stress explained 25 percent and 31 percent of the variance in mental health in the male and female subsamples, respectively. In the area of perceived social support, social companionship support exerted a significant effect on the mental health of both male and female migrants. Whereas instrumental support had a significant effect on the mental health of male migrants, self-esteem support affected the mental health of female migrants. The total explained variances for social support were 5 percent for the male subsample and 4 percent for the female subsample.

A series of regression analyses were used to test the mediating and moderating effects of social support. Results did not support a mediating role of social support in the relationship between migration stress and mental health of migrant workers. However, a modest moderating effect of social support (that is, interaction between migration stress and mental health) was found in the female sample, which accounted for a 1 percent variance in their mental health (see Table 4). In other words, social support acted as a moderator to decrease the intensity of the migration stress experienced by female migrant workers, leading to an improvement in their mental health. However, no such moderating effect was found in the male migrant sample.


Mental Health Status of Migrant Workers

This study finds that 25 percent of the male migrant workers and 6 percent of the female migrant workers could be classified as mentally unhealthy. As a whole, the mentally unhealthy migrant workers experienced more symptoms related to obsession and compulsion, interpersonal sensitivity, hostility, depression, and phobic anxiety. The findings echo the results of the study conducted by Q. I. Shen et al. (1998) in that migrant workers in our sample also had significantly higher scores in symptoms associated with obsession and compulsion, interpersonal sensitivity, and phobic anxiety. In view of the massive numbers of migrants in China, this figure is rather alarming and warrants close attention by the Chinese authorities. Unfortunately, although the Chinese government is beginning to introduce different measures to help migrant workers and their families to settle down in the cities, very little attention is being paid to understanding and addressing the mental health needs of this migrant population .Worse still, it is disturbing to realize that most people in China, including migrant workers, are not aware of their mental health problems and do not seek psychiatric consultation at the initial stages of psychiatric illness (Phillips, Pearson, Li, Xu, & Yang, 2000).

Common Risk Factors Experienced by Migrant Workers

In the present study, it was found that migration stress exerted a significant effect on the mental health of both male and female migrant workers in Shanghai. Specifically, financial and employment difficulties and difficulties in interpersonal relationships significantly predicted the mental health of both male and female migrants. The former was found to be the most stressful, which echoes the findings of studies from other countries (Thompson et al., 2002). Specific circumstances that relate to the working conditions of migrant workers in China may account for these results. Reports suggest that migrant workers face overdue salary payments (Tan, 2000), long working hours (Tan, 2000), bullying by supervisors (Wong & Lee, 2003), and a lack of opportunities to move to higher paid jobs (Wong & Lee, 2003). Other sources suggest that the employers of factory and construction workers treat their employees unfairly by requiring them to deposit as much as RMB 600 before employment (Roberts, 2000).

Difficulties in interpersonal relationships was another common risk factor in both male and female migrant workers. According to our findings, the sources of tensions and conflicts came from work (for example, "I cannot get along with co-workers"); family (for example, "I have conflicts with other family members"); and co-residents (for example, "I have conflicts with co-residents").These findings concur with overseas studies that suggest that migrants who have more marital and work conflicts have poorer mental health (Santos, Bohon, & Sanchez-Sosa, 1998). Migration is a time of stress, and it is not uncommon for migrant workers to experience an increase in interpersonal conflicts as they adjust to a new and unfamiliar environment (Scott & Scott, 1982). What is distressing to realize is that difficulties in interpersonal relationships invariably limit the opportunity to solicit the social support that can buffer the deleterious effects of stress on the mental health of the targeted population (Vega et al., 1996).

Functions of Social Support in the Mental Health of Migrant Workers

Social companionship support exerted a significant effect on the mental health of male and female migrant workers in Shanghai. Essentially, the items in this subscale concerned social isolation and the availability of companionship. During settlement, migrants experience both the loss of a close social network and the lack of a social network in their new environment (Oropeza et al., 1991). In our sample, the migrant workers felt a sense of loss when they had to leave their families and children behind. Once they were in the cities, they were too busy to find the time to establish new relationships. Therefore, the perceived availability of social companionship support could be a powerful factor in protecting migrant workers from feeling a sense of loss in Shanghai.

Instrumental support was found to be a predictor of the mental health of male migrant workers. In patriarchal Chinese society, men are expected to support their families financially (L. Zhang, 2002). The Confucian work ethic also emphasizes the importance of work as a reflection of productivity and adequacy (Hui & Tan, 1996). These cultural values may put a great deal of pressure on men, particularly if they are married, to provide for the welfare of their families. Indeed, male migrant workers probably expect--or are expected--to keep their ]jobs to ensure that they have enough money to send back home or to provide for their families in the city (Wong & Lee, 2003). Male migrant workers in Shanghai are therefore acutely aware of the importance of quickly settling in and finding and maintaining a stable job. Instrumental support, such as the availability of help during times of crisis and sickness and of practical assistance in dealing with the difficulties of daily living, would be the most welcomed by male migrant workers and would, in turn, probably contribute to better mental health among them.

For female migrant workers, only the perceived availability of esteem support was significantly related to mental health. To understand the significance of this type of support for female migrant workers, researchers need to explore why they may suffer from low self-esteem. According to Ma (2000), differential treatment based on gender, combined with secondary resident status, creates a group of migrant women who are in a doubly disadvantageous position. For example, in task assignments at factories, the local residents get the best jobs. Female migrant workers are usually given the least desirable jobs and are put in a subordinate position because of their gender. Such treatment greatly affects the self-esteem of some female migrant workers. Another reason for the development of low self-esteem among female migrant workers may be a constant comparison of their own status and conditions with those of local female residents. Our study showed that more female than male migrant workers found such thoughts about cultural differences as "I think I am looked down on by the locals in Shanghai," "People in Shanghai have a better life than I have," and "People in Shanghai dress, eat, and drink better than I do" to be stressful. Invariably, some of them tend to see themselves as inferior to their counterparts in Shanghai. Given these two reasons, it is not surprising to find that esteem support, which involves the perception of positive appraisals by others, such as "I am praised by others" and "Most people respect me," could improve the self-esteem of female migrant workers and contribute to better mental health among some of them.

This study finds a moderating effect of social companionship support in the female migrant workers. Adopting the argument made by Lazarus (1999), one way social support can act as a moderator is through an appraisal mechanism. In other words, an individual who can appraise or reframe the stressful circumstances as less threatening and see himself or herself as having adequate resources to deal with the situations will have better mental health than the one who does not. In this study, the findings appear to suggest that perceived availability of social companionship helped female migrant workers to appraise the migration stress as less threatening, thus resulting in better outcomes in their mental health. It is interesting that this may also partially explain why female workers enjoyed relatively better mental health than did the male migrant workers in this study. Whereas social support might have helped female migrant workers to counteract the effects of migrant stress on their mental health, no such effect was found among the male migrant workers.


Future Research

At present, there are very few published works on the psychosocial issues faced by migrant workers in China in international academic journals. Given the size of this migrant population, there is certainly a need to further explore the issues they face in settling in the cities in China. For example, marital separation as a result of migration is an area of concern because such marital arrangement can affect spousal relationships. Besides the adult migrant population, there is an urgent need to explore the adjustment issues faced by migrant children in the cities and those who are left behind in the villages. In addition, the sexual behaviors of male migrant workers in the cities are also a cause of concern as some of them may engage in unsafe sex. Further exploration into these areas would provide information for formulating policies and designing programs to help these individuals.

Policy Level

The findings on risk factors may help policymakers to develop and consolidate policies on internal migration so that the lives and rights of the millions of migrant workers in China can be enhanced. Specifically, the central, provincial, and local governments need to tighten up and follow through with policies on social security and health insurance for migrant workers. Moreover, they should try to work with trade unions to address such injustices as withholding the salaries of migrant workers and should implement much stronger punitive measures against those employers who exploit them (Wong, 2007). Internationally, this study points to the need for national strategies that would involve a concerted effort by different levels of government to create and implement policies for migrant workers in individual countries.

Service Provision Level

As social support has been found to have a beneficial effect on the mental health of migrant workers, it would be useful to help them to develop social networks so that they can help one another to deal with their settlement difficulties. According to Zhao's (2000) analysis, various types of informal, mutual-aid organizations are run by migrant workers. Although some of these organizations are economically oriented (for example, informal organizations for migrants in the transport and loading industries), others are socially oriented (for example, networks of fellow villagers, kinsmen, or relatives). Apart from satisfying basic material needs, such as food and housing, these organizations facilitate the collection and exchange of information about job opportunities and provide a sense of security for migrant workers. At present, some of these organizations are loosely organized. It would be sensible for the central and local governments to guide and strengthen the development of these organizations so that they can help migrant workers to settle in urban area (Zhao, 2000). Internationally, it may be useful to engage individuals in ethnic enclaves to help migrant workers to develop informal support networks. Indeed, this is particularly relevant to certain ethnic groups, such as the Chinese, because they tend to rely a great deal on informal networks for social support (Wong, 2008).

Limitations of the Study

Despite the contribution that this study makes to the literature, it has several limitations. First, the use of a cross-sectional survey means that causal factors are undetermined, and these should be investigated in a longitudinal study. Second, the migration stress scale was developed to explore the specific issues that are faced by migrant workers in Shanghai. Initial validation with factor analysis was conducted; however, more rigorous validation of the two scales is needed. In the absence of local norms for the BSI, this study adopted the criterion cutoffs suggested by Ritsner et al. (2000). Future studies should aim to develop local norms for the BSI. Finally, this study examined the situation of migrant workers in Shanghai and may not be generalizable to migrant workers in other parts of China.

Original manuscript received November 28, 2006

Final revision received June 3, 2008

Accepted June 27, 2008


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Daniel Fu Keung Wong, PhD, is associate professor, School of Nursing and Social Work Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Melbourne, Level 5, 234 Queensberry Street, Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 3053; e-mail : Grace Leung, PhD, is a teaching consultant, University of Hong Kong.
Table 1: Sociodemographic Characteristics
of Male and Female Migrant Workers

 Migrants Male
 (N = 475) (n = 236)
Characteristic n (%) n (%)


 18-25 266 (56) 128 (54.2)
 26-45 209 (44) 108 (45.8)
 Primary and junior 364 (76.8) 170 (72.3)
 Senior secondary 110 (23.2) 65 (27.7)
 and tertiary
 Full-time 440 (67.8) 221 (95.3)
 Part-time 20 (32.2) 11 (4.7)
 Job type

 Manual work 193 (41.8) 91 (41.4)
 Service work 182 (38.5) 90 (40.9)
 Self-employment 98 (19.7) 39 (17.7)
 Monthly salary
 Below RMB 800 170 (36) 50 (72)
 Over RMB 800 305 (64) 186 (76)
 Marital status
 Single 153 (32.2) 162 (68.6)
 Married 322 (67.8) 74 (31.4)
 Duration of stay
 Less than a year 247 (52) 117 (49.6)
 More than a year 228 (48) 119 (50.4)
 Living arrangement
 Living alone or as 339 (71.4) 166 (70.3)
 a family unit
 Sharing flats, living 136 (28.6) 70 (29.7)
 in hostels

 Female Exact
 (n = 238) Test/[chi
Characteristic n (%) square]


 Age p = .52
 18-25 137 (57.6)
 26-45 101 (42.4)
 Education p = .01
 Primary and junior 194 (81.5)
 Senior secondary 44 (18.5)
 and tertiary
 Employment p = .41
 Full-time 222 (96.15)
 Part-time 9 (3.9)
 Job type [chi square] = 3.87,
 p = .28
 Manual work 101 (44.9)
 Service work 73 (32.4)
 Self-employment 51 (22.7)
 Monthly salary p = .001
 Below RMB 800 120 (50.4)
 Over RMB 800 118 (49.6)
 Marital status p = .40
 Single 160 (67.2)
 Married 78 (32.8)
 Duration of stay p = .18
 Less than a year 129 (54.2)
 More than a year 109 (45.8)
 Living arrangement p = .32
 Living alone or as 173 (72.7)
 a family unit
 Sharing flats, living 65 (27.3)
 in hostels

Note: RMR = renminbi.

Table 2: Mental Health of Male and Female
Migrant Workers (N = 475)


 Mentally Mentally
 Healthy Unhealthy
 (n = 177) (n = 59)
Brief Symptom (75%) (25%)
Inventory (BSI) M (SD) M (SD)

Overall BSI 0.16 (0.12) 0.72 (0.28)
Psychoticism 0.15 (0.19) 0.65 (0.38)
Somatization 0.10 (0.15) 0.52 (0.41)
Depression 0.12 (0.17) 0.76 (0.52)
Hostility 0.20 (0.25) 0.86 (0.65)
Phobic anxiety 0.11 (018) 0.58 (0.44)
Obsession-compulsion 0.28 (0.30) 1.00 (0.40)
Anxiety 0.05 (0.12) 0.52 (0.48)
Paranoid ideation 0.20 (0.25) 0.73 (0.39)
Interpersonal sensitivity 0.27 (0.34) 1.01 (0.58)

 Mentally Mentally
 Healthy Unhealthy
 (n = 218) (n = 14)
Brief Symptom (94%) (6%)
Inventory (BSI) M (SD) M (SD)

Overall BSI 0.25 (0.19) 1.07 (0.27)
Psychoticism 0.17 (0.21) 0.71 (0.48)
Somatization 0.19 (0.23) 1.08 (0.49)
Depression 0.27 (0.29) 1.29 (0.63)
Hostility 0.31 (0.33) 1.11 (0.30)
Phobic anxiety 0.26 (0.29) 1.19 (0.54)
Obsession-compulsion 0.40 (0.33) 1.46 (0.69)
Anxiety 0.16 (0.21) 0.83 (0.43)
Paranoid ideation 0.25 (0.27) 1.04 (0.57)
Interpersonal sensitivity 0.33 (0.33) 1.12 (0.80)

Note: All ps = .00.

Table 3: Hierarchical Regression (OLS) of Mental Health
of Male and Female Migrant Workers on Migration Stress and
Social Support

Predictors B SE [R.sup.2]

 Male sample (N = 236)

Step 1
Migration stress 0.25
 Financial and employment 0.20 *** 0.04
 Cultural differences 0.17 0.05
 Lack of social life 0.04 0.04
 Difficulties in interpersonal 0.29 *** 0.05
Step 2 0.30
 Social support
 Emotional support -0.02 0.04
 Social companionship support -0.23 *** 0.05
 Instrumental support -0.14 * 0.05
 Self-esteem support -0.05 0.06

 [R.sup.2] F
Predictors Change Change

 Male sample (N = 236)

Step 1
Migration stress 0.25 19.47 ***
 Financial and employment
 Cultural differences
 Lack of social life
 Difficulties in interpersonal
Step 2 0.05 3.78 *
 Social support
 Emotional support
 Social companionship support
 Instrumental support
 Self-esteem support

Predictors B SE [R.sup.2]

 Female sample (N = 238)

Step 1
Migration stress 0.31
 Financial and employment 0.21 * 0.04
 Cultural differences 0.14 0.04
 Lack of social life 0.05 0.04
 Difficulties in interpersonal 0.28 *** 0.05
Step 2 0.35
 Social support
 Emotional support -0.00 0.04
 Social companionship support -0.15 * 0.04
 Instrumental support -0.10 0.04
 Self-esteem support -0.13 * 0.05

 [R.sup.2] F
Predictors Change Change

 Female sample (N = 238)

Step 1
Migration stress 0.31 26.26 ***
 Financial and employment
 Cultural differences
 Lack of social life
 Difficulties in interpersonal
Step 2 0.04 3.38 *
 Social support
 Emotional support
 Social companionship support
 Instrumental support
 Self-esteem support

Note: OLS = ordinary least squares.
* p < .05. *** p < .001.

Table 4: Moderating Effects of Social
Companionship Support and Esteem
Support on Migration Stress and Mental
Health of Female Migrant Workers (Using
Hierarchical Regression OLS Model)

 Step 1 Step 2 Step 3
Predictors B B B

Migration stress 0.54 *** 0.50 *** 0.54 ***
Social companionship -0.11 * -0.16 *
Migration stress x social
companionship -1.02 ***
[R.sup.2] 0.29 0.30 0.32
F change 96.54 *** 3.8 * 7.50 ***
[R.sup.2] 0.29 0.01 0.02

 Step 1 Step 2 Step 3
Predictors B B B

Migration stress 0.54 *** 0.53 *** 0.14 ***
Esteem support -0.12* 0.11
Migration stress x esteem
 support -0.64
[R.sup.2] 0.29 0.30 0.30
F change 96.54 *** 4.61 * 1.32
[R.sup.2] 0.29 0.10 0.00

Note: OLS = ordinary least squares.

* p < .05. *** p < .001.
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Author:Wong, Daniel Fu Keung; Leung, Grace
Publication:Health and Social Work
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Nov 1, 2008
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