Ethnic Identity Buffers the Effect of Discrimination on Family, Life, and Health Satisfaction for Pacific Peoples in New Zealand

Main Article Content

Sam Manuela


Ethnic identity, Wellbeing, Pacific Peoples, Discrimination, Health


Introduction: The effect of discrimination on health and wellbeing varies. Mixed findings show that greater ethnic identity can make one more susceptible to the harmful effects of discrimination, or that ethnic identity can protect one against discrimination. This study tests how ethnic identity moderates the relationship between ethnic discrimination and a range of wellbeing measures for Pacific peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Methods: Two independent studies, The Pacific Identity and Wellbeing Study (N = 752) and the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study (N = 472), surveyed Pacific peoples in New Zealand across measures of ethnic identity, perceived discrimination, family satisfaction, life satisfaction, and health satisfaction.

Findings: Moderated regression analyses for both studies showed a significant identity x discrimination interaction. Across all analyses, for those with lower ethnic identity scores, there was a significant negative relationship between discrimination and the health and wellbeing measures. For those with higher ethnic identity scores, there was no significant relationship between discrimination and wellbeing measures.

Conclusions: These results suggest that higher scores of Pacific ethnic identity buffer the negative effects of discrimination on satisfaction with family, life, and health. These findings offer support for the protective properties of Pacific ethnic identities. As such, initiatives that seek to bolster Pacific ethnic identities and culture will support a multifaceted approach for enhancing Pacific health and psychological wellbeing.

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