Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Conceptualization, Measurement, and Association of Underemployment to Mental Health Inequities between Immigrant and Canadian-born Labour Force Participants

Document type Thesis
Author Mawani, Farah N.
Degree Ph.D., Public Health Sciences
Publisher University of Toronto; Toronto
Date 2018
Pages 216 pages


This thesis aims to increase understanding of the association of underemployment (unemployment or overqualification) to mental health inequities between immigrant and Canadian-born labour force participants. The first paper provides a theoretical framework to guide design, analyses and interpretation of findings for this thesis, and future research on social determinants of mental health inequities. The second paper uses the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) Cycle 1.2 to assess the construct validity of self-rated mental health (SRMH) for the overall population, and sub-groups by immigrant status and sex. Positive associations between SRMH and a comprehensive array of mental morbidity measures were large and consistent, but a sizeable percentage of respondents with mental morbidity did not rate their mental health as fair/poor. SRMH is useful for assessing social determinants of inequities in general mental health, but not specific mental health morbidities. The third paper uses CCHS Cycle 2.1 (2003) to examine the association of underemployment to fair/poor self-rated mental health (SRMH) in: 1. labour force participants (18-64 yrs) in Canada, and 2. between a. immigrants vs. Canadian-born labour force participants, and b. recent immigrant (< 10 years in Canada) vs. long-term immigrant (┬│ 10 years in Canada) labour force participants. Underemployment was positively associated with fair/poor SRMH for labour force participants. There was a significant positive association of overqualification to fair/poor SRMH for immigrant (AOR 1.63), but not for Canadian-born labour force participants (AOR 1.03), and differences between the groups were significant (p<0.05). Unemployment had a higher magnitude of association (AOR 3.41) than overqualification (AOR 1.52) to fair/poor SRMH for long-term immigrants, while overqualification had a higher magnitude of association (AOR 2.04) than unemployment (AOR 1.15) to fair/poor SRMH for recent immigrants arriving between 1993-2003. For recent immigrants, the associations of unemployment and overqualification to fair/poor SRMH were not statistically significant (p<0.05). Though differences between groups did not achieve statistical significance (p<0.05), differences may have practical importance....