Is Living in an Ethnic Enclave Associated With Cognitive Function? Results From the Population Study of Chinese Elderly (PINE) in Chicago

Man Guo, Yi Wang, Hanzhang Xu, Mengting Li, Bei Wu, Xinqi Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Objectives: Ethnic enclaves provide pivotal coping resources for immigrants, having important implications for cognitive health. This study examined the association between living in an ethnic enclave (i.e., Chinatown) and cognition, and potential moderating effect of education on such an association among Chinese older immigrants in the United States. We further examined subgroup differences based on preferred language (Mandarin, Cantonese, and Taishanese). Research Designs and Methods: Data were derived from the Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago (N = 3,105, mean age = 73). Global cognition, assessed by a battery including Mini-Mental State Examination, working memory, episodic memory, and executive function, was compared between those who lived in Chinatown (n = 1,870) and those who did not (n = 1,235). Linear regressions with interaction terms were performed in the entire sample and subsamples with different language preferences. Results: Chinatown residents had significantly poorer cognition than non-Chinatown residents. Regression results identified both protective and risk factors for cognition associated with living in Chinatown. Among them, education (β = 0.072, p <. 001) played a salient role in explaining the cognitive disadvantage of Chinatown residents. Education also moderated the influence of Chinatown residence on cognition, but only among Mandarin speakers (β = -0.027, p =. 04). Discussion and Implications: Living in an ethnic enclave may be a risk factor for poor cognition for Chinese immigrants. Neighborhood-specific health assessment may facilitate early identification and prevention of cognitive impairment in this population. Studies need to examine divergent aging experiences of immigrants within single ethnic groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)662-673
Number of pages12
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • Diversity and ethnicity
  • Environmental health factors
  • Immigrants
  • Minority issues

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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