Newswise — Migrating from one country to another can be very stressful for immigrants and their children. In the United States, however, first-generation immigrants (FGIs) have lower rates of alcohol use disorders (AUDs) than Americans despite facing more psychosocial risk factors such as poverty, lower education, and greater social and economic exclusion. This is called an “immigrant paradox.” This study assessed the risk of AUDs among the general population in France, as well as first-, second-, and third-generation immigrants.

Researchers analyzed data collected from face-to-face interviews with 39,617 French subjects (29,419 non-immigrants, 10,198 immigrants; 21,337 women, 18,280 men) in a prior survey by the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. Sociodemographic data were used to determine participants’ immigration status. AUDs were assessed using a version of the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview.

Unlike the United States, France does not appear to have an immigrant paradox. FGIs were in fact more likely to experience AUDs than French natives (4.67% versus 3.82%, respectively), and second- and third-generation immigrants exhibited more AUDs than French natives (5.71% and 6.63%, respectively). This reflects a generational risk gradient for AUDs. The authors offered two possible explanations for these findings: one, the paradox effect may be more pronounced in societies such as in the United States, where immigration is more ingrained in the nation-building process; and two, a higher baseline prevalence of AUDs among U.S. citizens may explain the significant gap observed between this population and FGIs.

Journal Link: Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research