Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 497–504 | Cite as

Economic Hardship and Depression Among Women in Latino Farmworker Families

  • Camila A. Pulgar
  • Grisel Trejo
  • Cynthia Suerken
  • Edward H. Ip
  • Thomas A. Arcury
  • Sara A. Quandt
Original Paper


Farmworker family members risk poor mental health due to stressors including poverty, relocation, and documentation status. This paper explores the relationship between farm-work related stressors and depressive symptoms in women of Latino farmworker families. 248 mothers of young children completed fixed-response interviews in Spanish. Measures included the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale, Migrant Farmworker Stress Inventory, and USDA Household Food Security Survey Module. Bivariate analyses indicated greater depressive symptoms with more economic hardship, more farm work-related stressors, greater age, and being unmarried. In multivariable logistic regression, economic hardship remained the only factor associated with depressive symptoms. Greater economic hardship, but not general farm work-related stress, is a main factor associated with depression in women of Latino farmworker families. Maternal depression can have consequences for both mothers and families. Mental health services for women in farmworker families should be targeted to those with the greatest economic challenges.


Migrant workers Mental health Immigrants Depression Women 



This research was supported by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (RO1 HD059855).


  1. 1.
    Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Koretz D, Merikangas KR, Rush AJ, Walters EE, Wang PS. The epidemiology of major depressive disorder: results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). JAMA. 2003;289:3095–105.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Morbidity and mortality weekly report (MMWR). Current depression among adults-United States, 2006 and 2008. Center for Disease Control. Weekly. 2010;59(38):1229–1235.
  3. 3.
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Results from the 2012 national survey on drug use and health: Mental health findings. NSDUH Series H-47, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4805. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013.
  4. 4.
    Nolen-Hoeksema S. Gender differences in depression. Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2001;10(5):173–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Piccinelli M, Wilkinson G. Gender differences in depression. Br J Psychiatry. 2000;177:486–92.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Belle D, Doucet J. Poverty, inequality and discrimination as sources of depression among U.S. women. Psychol Women Q. 2003;27(2):101–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Eamon MK, Zuehl RM. Maternal depression and physical punishment as mediators of the effect of poverty on socioemotional problems of children in single-mother families. Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2001;71(2):218–26.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    DeNavas-Walt C, Proctor BD. Income and poverty in the United States: 2013. Current Population Reports. U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration. U.S. Census Bureau. 2014. P60-249.
  9. 9.
    Bloom B, Jones L, Freeman G. Summary health statistics for U.S. Children: National Health Interview Survey, 2012. Vital and Health Statistics. 2013. DHHS Publication No. 2014–1586, Series 10, No. 258.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Newland RP, Crnic KA, Cox MJ, Mills-Koonce W. The family model stress and maternal psychological symptoms: mediated pathways from economic hardship to parenting. J Fam Psychol. 2013;27(1):96–105.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Amato PR, Zuo J. Rural poverty, urban poverty, and psychological well-being. Sociol Q. 1992;33:229–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Barnett MA. Economic disadvantage in complex family systems: expansion of family stress models. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev. 2008;11(3):145–61.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Conger RD, Conger KJ, Elder GH, Lorenz FO, Simons RL, Whitbeck LB. A family process model of economic hardship and adjustment of early adolescent boys. Child Dev. 1992;63(3):526–41.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Courtney M, Dworsky A. Economic hardships and food insecurity: findings from the Milwaukee TANF applicant study. University of Chicago, Chapin Hall Working Paper, 2006.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Quandt SA, Arcury TA, Early J, Tapia J, Davis JD. Household food security among migrant and seasonal Latino farmworkers in North Carolina. Public Health Rep. 2004;119(6):568–76.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Quandt SA, Shoaf JI, Tapia J, Hernández-Pelletier M, Clark HM, Arcury TA. Experiences of Latino immigrant families in North Carolina help explain elevated levels of food insecurity and hunger. J Nutr. 2006;136(10):2638–44.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ip EH, Saldana S, Arcury TA, Grzywacz JG, Trejo G, Quandt SA. Profiles of food security for US farmworker households and factors related to dynamic of change. Am J Public Health. In press.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hill GH, Moloney AG, Mize T, Himelick T, Jodie GL. Prevalence and predictors of food insecurity in migrant farmworkers in Georgia. Am J Public Health. 2011;101(5):831–3.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Wiggins MF. Farm labor and the struggle for justice in the Eastern United States. In: Arcury TA, Quandt SA, editors. Latino farmworkers in the Eastern United States: health, safety, and justice. New York: Springer; 2009. p. 201–20.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hovey JD, Magaña CG. Acculturative stress, anxiety, and depression among Mexican immigrant farmworkers in the Midwest United States. J Immigr Health. 2000;2(3):119–31.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Arcury TA, Quandt SA. Delivery of health services to migrant and seasonal farmworkers. Annu Rev Public Health. 2007;28:345–63.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Carroll DJ, Samardick R, Bernard S, Gabbard S, Hernandez T. Findings from the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) 2001–2002: a demographic and employment profile of United States farm workers (Report 9). Washington: US Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy; 2005.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Hiott AE, Grzywacz JG, Arcury TA, Quandt SA. Gender differences in anxiety and depression and anxiety among immigrant Latinos. Fam Syst Health. 2006;24(2):137–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Vega W, Warheit G, Palacio R. Psychiatric symptomatology among Mexican American farmworkers. Soc Sci Med. 1985;20(1):39–45.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Grzywacz JG, Quandt SA, Chen H, Isom S, Kiang L, Vallejos Q, Arcury TA. Depressive symptoms among Latino farmworkers across the agricultural season: structural and situational influences. Cultur Divers Ethn Minor Psychol. 2010;16(3):335–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Arcury TA, Marín AJ. Latino/Hispanic farmworkers and farm work in the Eastern United States: the context for health, safety, and justice. In: Arcury TA, Quandt SA, editors. Latino farmworkers in the Eastern United States: health, safety, and justice. New York: Springer; 2009. p. 15–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    de Leon Sianta ML. Correlates of maternal depression among Mexican-American migrant farmworker mothers. J Child Adolesc Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 1990;3(1):9–13.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Dietz LJ, Jennings KD, Kelley SA, Marshal M. Maternal depression, paternal psychopathology, and toddlers’ behavior problems. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2009;38(1):48–61.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Larson AC. Migrant and seasonal farmworker enumeration profile study. Accessed 26 May 2015.
  30. 30.
    US Department of Labor. Who are migrant and seasonal farmworkers? Employment and training administration. USDOL. 2014. Accessed 17 Sept 2014.
  31. 31.
    Lichter DT, Parisi D, Taquino MC, Grice SM. Residential segregation in new Hispanic destinations: cities, suburbs, and rural communities compared. Soc Sci Res. 2010;39(2):215–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Arcury TA, Quandt SA. Participant recruitment for qualitative research: a site-based approach to community research in complex societies. Human Organ. 1999;58:28–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Faugier J, Sargeant M. Sampling hard to reach populations. J Adv Nurs. 1997;26:790–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Muhib FB, Lin LS, Stueve A, Miller RL, Ford WL, Johnson WD, Smith PJ. A venue-based method for sampling hard-to-reach populations. Public Health Rep. 2001;116(suppl 1):216–22.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Parrado EA, McQuiston C, Flippen CA. Participatory survey research: integrating community collaboration and quantitative methods for the study of gender and HIV risks among Hispanic migrants. Sociol Methods Res. 2005;34(2):204–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Arcury TA, Grzywacz JG, Talton JW, Chen H, Vallejos QM, Galván L, Barr DB, Quandt SA. Repeated pesticide expsoure among North Carolina migrant and seasonal farmworkers. Am J Ind Med. 2010;53:802–13.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Quandt SA, Grzywacz JG, Marín A, Carrillo L, Coates ML, Burke B, Arcury TA. Illnesses and injuries reported by Latino poultry workers in Western North Carolina. Am J Ind Med. 2006;49:343–51.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Radloff LS. The CES-D scale: a self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Appl Psychol Meas. 1977;1:385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Grzywacz JG, Hovey JD, Seligman LD, Arcury TA, Quandt SA. Evaluating short-form versions of the CES-D for measuring depressive symptoms among Immigrants from Mexico. Hisp J Behav Sci. 2006;28:404–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Bickel G, Nord M, Price C, Hamilton W, Cook J. Measuring food security in the United States. Guide to measuring household food security: Revised 2000. Alexandria, VA: United States Department of Agriculture. Food and Nutrition Service. Office of Analysis, Nutrition, and Evaluation. 2000.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Harrison GG, Stormer A, Herman DR, Winham DM. Development of a Spanish-language version of the U.S. household food security survey module. J Nutr. 2003;133(4):1192–7.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Nord M, Coleman-Jensen A, Gregory C. Prevalence of U.S. food insecurity is related to changes in unemployment, inflation, and the price of food. United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. ERS Report Number 167. 2014.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Hovey JD. Correlates of migrant farmworker stress among migrant farmworkers in Michigan. Migr Health Newsline. 2001;18(4):5–6.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Hiott AE, Grzywacz JG, Davis SW, Quandt SA, Arcury TA. Migrant farmworker stress: mental health implications. J Rural Health. 2008;24(1):32–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Pratt L, Brody D. Depression in the U.S. household population, 2009–2012. NCHS Data Brief. 2014; 172:1–8.
  46. 46.
    Borrell C, Muntaner C, Benach J, Artazcoz L. Social class and self-reported health status among men and women: what is the role of work organization, household material standards and household labour? Soc Sci Med. 2004;58:1869–87.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Farm Labor: Background. National Agricultural Worker Survey. United States Department of Agriculture. Economic Research Service. 2014. Accessed 26 Sept 2014.
  48. 48.
    Guendelman S, Malin C, Herr-Harthorn B, Vargas PN. Orientations to motherhood and male partner support among women in Mexico and Mexican-origin women in the United States. Soc Sci Med. 2001;52:1805–13.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    The National Agricultural Workers Survey. Chapter 3: Income and poverty. United States Department of Labor. Employment and Training Administration. 2010. Accessed 21 Oct 2014.
  50. 50.
    Carvajal SC, Kibor C, McClelland DJ, Ingram M, Zapien JG, Torres E, Redondo F, Rodriguez K, Rubio-Goldsmith R, Meister J, Rosales C. Stress and social-cultural factors related to health status among US-Mexico border farmworkers. J Immigr Minor Health. 2014;16(6):1176–82.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Sullivan M, Rehm R. Mental health of undocumented Mexican immigrants: a review of the literature. Adv Nurs Sci. 2005;28(3):240–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Finch BK, Vega WA. Acculturation stress, social support, and self-rated health among Latinos in California. J Immigr Health. 2003;5(3):109–17.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Crain R, Grzywacz JG, Schwantes M, Isom S, Quandt SA, Arcury TA. Correlates of mental health among Latino farmworkers in North Carolina. J Rural Health. 2012;28(3):277–85.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Camila A. Pulgar
    • 1
  • Grisel Trejo
    • 1
  • Cynthia Suerken
    • 2
  • Edward H. Ip
    • 2
  • Thomas A. Arcury
    • 3
  • Sara A. Quandt
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of Epidemiology and Prevention, Medical Center BoulevardWake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA
  2. 2.Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of Biostatistical SciencesWake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA
  3. 3.Department of Family and Community MedicineWake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA

Personalised recommendations