Psychological and acculturation correlates of work status among Soviet Jewish refugees in the United States

A. Vinokurov, D. Birman, E. Trickett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The present study assesses the relationship of work status to acculturation and psychological adaptation among 206 refugees from the former Soviet Union who have resettled in the United States. These refugees lived in two different urban areas: the Washington, DC area and the Brighton Beach community in New York. Psychological adaptation was measured in terms of life satisfaction and alienation. Three categories of work status were used: unemployed, underemployed and employed in one's own field of professional expertise. In general, a linear trend was found among the three groups. Thus, refugees employed in the same field as in the former Soviet Union had been in the United States the longest and reported the highest levels of income, level of American acculturation, comfort speaking English, and life satisfaction. Those unemployed were lowest on each of these variables. Alienation was significantly lower only among those employed in the same professional field and was equally high for both the unemployed and the underemployed. City differences revealed that residents of the Washington, DC area were more likely to be working and had higher levels of education, income, life satisfaction, comfort speaking English, and behavioral acculturation to the American culture. Implications are offered for the role of work in immigrant adaptation and the importance of attending to community differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)538-559
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Migration Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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