The Immigrant Advantage

What We Can Learn from Newcomers to America about Health, Happiness, and Hope (2011)
The Immigrant Advantage

The Immigrant Advantage recounts 7 separate cultural traditions observed by some members of immigrant groups after coming to America: the Vietnamese Money Club; the Mexican Cuarentena; South Asian Assisted Marriage; Korean and Chinese Afterschools; West Indian Multigenerational Households; Barrio Stoops, Sidewalks, and Shops; and Vietnamese Monthly Rice. Traditions such as these, the author argues, comprise part of the explanation for “the ‘immigrant paradox,’ the growing evidence that immigrants, even those from poor or violence-wracked countries, tend to be both physically and mentally healthier than most native-born Americans” (inside flap).


A common thread through these traditions was the inherent practice of tapping into and relying on the resources and social support of personal relationships (friends and family) and community (online doesn’t count!). In addition to the overt, desired benefits that initiated observing such traditions, greater overall health, well being, satisfaction, and connectedness was a regular byproduct. I often have felt saddened that there are essentially zero cultural or ethnic traditions that were passed down through either my mother or father’s families. I found this most surprising on my father’s side, as he is 100% of his ethnicity but was raised only to ‘speak American.’ Perhaps because of that, I enjoyed learning about the richness of these selected traditions and how the author attempted to incorporate some of them into her own life.

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