Evidence of a ‘refugee paradox’ for antisocial behavior and violence in the United States

Michael G. Vaughn, Christopher P. Salas-Wright, Zhengmin Qian, Jing Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Few, if any, studies have examined antisocial behaviors among refugees especially using population-based samples. As such, it is unresolved whether the ‘immigrant paradox’ for antisocial behavior extends to include refugees. Employing data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, we assess the lifetime prevalence of antisocial behavior among refugees (n = 428) in contrast with non-refugee immigrants (n = 4955) and native-born Americans (n = 29,267). Additionally, we assess the effect of age of arrival and time spent in the Unites States. Results indicate that refugees were significantly less likely than native-born Americans or non-refugee immigrants to report involvement in any non-violent or violent behavior with the exception of injuring someone such that they had to receive medical attention. We also found no significant relationship between duration as refugee and antisocial behavior. However, persons who spent more than one year as a refugee were significantly more likely to report involvement in violence. Overall, but with some caveats, findings suggest that the immigrant paradox extends to refugees as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)624-631
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 3 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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