A longitudinal analysis of cross-border ties and depression for Latino adults

Jacqueline M. Torres, Anne Lee, Hector M. González, Lorena Garcia, Mary N. Haan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Recent scholarship suggests a significant association between cross-border ties, or ties maintained with family and friends in countries and communities of origin, and the mental health of immigrants and their descendants. To date, this research has been exclusively cross-sectional, precluding conclusions about a causal association between cross-border ties and mental health outcomes. In the present study we undertake a longitudinal analysis of the relationship between cross-border ties and depression measured over a ten-year period for a sample of immigrant and U.S.-born Latinos. Data are from the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging (1998-2008), a population-based, prospective study of Latin American-origin adults 60 years and older. We find that cross-border ties reported at baseline were significantly associated with depression in subsequent study waves, even after controlling for the presence of depression at baseline, albeit with substantial differences by gender and nativity. Specifically, communication with family and friends in Latin America and travel to Latin America at baseline were each significantly associated with greater odds of depression for immigrant women, but with lower odds of depression for U.S.-born Latina women over the study period. Travel to Latin America at baseline was significantly associated with lower odds of depression for Latino men across the study. Across all models we control for depressive symptomatology at baseline to account for the reciprocal nature of depressive symptoms and engagement with social ties, including cross-border ties. Our findings suggest that cross-border ties may represent a unique source of both resilience and risk for the long-term mental health of immigrant Latinos and their descendants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-119
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Cross-border ties
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Latinos
  • Social ties
  • Transnationalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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