Socio-economic status of immigrants

Get Complete Project Material File(s) Now! »



In this chapter the literature relevant to the study is reviewed and discussed. Prior to discussing the literature, the chapter begins by giving a detailed definition of the terms ethnic foods and ethnic restaurants.

Defining ethnic foods and ethnic restaurants

Various definitions of ethnic foods have been put forward due to its broad nature (Verbeke Lopez, 2005; Leung, 2010; Kwon, 2015). According to Verbeke & López (2005) the term ethnic foods refers to an expression of culture, attitudes, values, religion and country of origin through food. In other words, these are food products that are specific and associated with a particular cultural group or region. Ethnic foods refers to foods from other countries that are different from the traditional food culture of the host country (Leung, 2010). The term also refers to food that has been adapted by mixing both local and imported ingredients and prepared at home, and / or includes commercially available foods that have been adapted to suit taste and preference of the host country (Leung, 2010).
According to Leung (2010), ethnic foods include:

  • Ready meals
  • Cooking and table sauces Cooking ingredients
  • Beverages
  • Accompaniments and snacks Seasonings Spices and herbs

Kwong (2015) defines ethnic foods as traditional food that is specific to a certain ethnic group but is also accepted and consumed by people outside that ethnic group. Therefore, ethnic foods can either be confined to a specific ethnic or cultural group or can be so familiar to the consumers that they are no longer considered as such but part of the mainstream food culture (Verbeke & López, 2005).
Many countries have seen an increase in the demand for ethnic foods due to growing immigrant populations (Verbeke & López, 2005; Leung, 2010). Globalisation and travelling also contribute to the increasing demand for ethnic foods as consumers become more adventurous (Leung, 2010), and ready to experiment with foods other than their regular diet (Agarwal & Dahm, 2015). This increased demand for ethnic foods has prompted growth in the number of ethnic restaurants and markets worldwide. The term ethnic restaurants therefore refers to all restaurants that are serving ethnic foods. The majority of these restaurants are independently owned and have limited resources when compared to franchised restaurants (Leung, 2010; Agarwal & Dahm, 2015). For the purposes of this study the term ethnic foods refers to all foods and ingredients other than South African cuisine that are characteristic of other African regions and / or cultures.

 Overview of the immigrant population in South Africa

According to the 2011 census, 5.7% of the South African population is foreign born (Statistics South Africa, 2013). Furthermore, a total of 6801 permanent residence permits were approved in 2013, compared to 1283 that were approved in 2012. Although the number for temporary residence has been fluctuating, over 100 000 permits per year were approved in 2011, 2012 and 2013 (Statistics South Africa, 2014a). It is therefore clear that the number of immigrants in South Africa has been increasing over the years (Statistics South Africa, 2014b).
According to Statistics South Africa (2014a) two thirds of immigrants in South Africa are from Africa. This increasing number of immigrants in South Africa from other African states is attributed to unstable economic conditions, soaring ethnic conflicts, volatile political situations and drought situations in the countries where these immigrants come from (Adepoju, 2008; Njomo, 2013; Statistics South Africa, 2013), which means that immigrants come to South Africa in search of better living conditions. It is estimated that the number of immigrants from other African countries living in South Africa is between five to ten million (Njomo, 2013). Njomo (2013) argues that these immigrants are predominantly from the SADAC region, Central, West, and East Africa. The majority of these immigrants come from Zimbabwe (42.6 %), followed by DRC (12.9 %), Nigeria (10.3%) and Lesotho (4.7%) (South African Press Association, 2014).

Socio-economic status of immigrants

Although there is a paucity of studies on the socio-economic status of Sub-Saharan immigrants living in South Africa, studies conducted in other parts of the world suggest that the general trend is for immigrants to be of a low socio-economic status. According to Hadley (2010) and Sanou et al. (2014), socio-economic status of immigrants is a major mediating factor in food insecurity, and is associated with lower incomes and low employment levels (Hadley et al., 2010; Vahabi & Damba, 2013; Anderson et al., 2014). The phenomenon of immigrants being of low socio-economic status is even higher amongst refugees as they are characterised by lack of formal education, language barriers, and lower employment levels (Hadley et al., 2010; Kiptinness & Dharod, 2011; Anderson et al., 2014). Lack of education not only makes it difficult for immigrants to find employment, thus limiting their financial resources, but also renders them vulnerable to food insecurity (Kiptinness & Dharod, 2011; Vahabi & Damba, 2013; Anderson et al., 2014). For example, in a study conducted by Kiptiness & Dharod (2010) in the United States (USA) amongst Bhutanese refugees, 64% of the participants had no formal education. As a result only 2% were able to get part-time or full-time employment. Similar results were found by Hadley (2010) who studied Somali refugees in the USA. According to Hadley, the majority of the households (88%) that participated in his study had lower monthly household incomes. Vahabi & Damba (2013) came to the same conclusion in their study of Latin American immigrants living in the USA, in which they found that the majority of the participants (57, 1%) had low income due to difficulties in finding decent jobs. In a study by Anderson et al. (2014) of Sudanese refugees living in the USA, about 71% of the refugees who had experienced food insecurity were of a low education and income status.
In the literature, low employment levels of immigrants has also been associated with the inability to speak the host country’s official language (Shackelford, 2010; Anderson et al., 2014). This was confirmed by Vahabi & Damba (2013) who reported that language difficulties were a major hindrance to employment amongst Latin American immigrants despite the fact that the majority were well educated and had extensive work experience. As a result, the majority of these immigrants were either unemployed or had low-paying or seasonal jobs. This phenomenon is consistent with the findings of a study by Anderson et al. (2014), which showed that language barriers have a bearing on low employment levels among immigrants. It is further reported that low employment levels are aggravated by employment restrictions imposed on foreign nationals (Shackelford, 2010). Results of similar studies conducted in the African continent seem to suggest the same socio-economic trends. For example, Liberian immigrants residing in Ghana were unemployed and fell into the category of low or middle income earners (Ross et al., 2016). This finding was consistent with a study conducted by Njomo (2012) in Cape Town, who observed that up to 48% of the population studied was either unemployed or holding low paying jobs.


 Food security status of the immigrants

Several authors are of the opinion that food insecurity is highly prevalent amongst immigrants, especially Sub-Saharan immigrants (Dharod et al., 2011; Jacobus & Jalali, 2011; Anderson et al., 2014), and that it is worse among the newly settled immigrants and refugees (Hadley et al., 2010). A study by Hadley et al. (2010) conducted in Midwestern USA amongst refugees, showed that the majority (78%) of the respondents had experienced food insecurity. These refugees had come from countries like Sierra Leone, Liberia, Somali, Ghana, Somali, and Togo. Similar results were found by Dharod et al. (2011) in a pilot study conducted amongst Somali refugees living in USA, who reported that 72% of the study population were food insecure. Another study conducted amongst African Immigrants in Lewiston (USA) also revealed major challenges with regard to food access (Jacobus & Jalali, 2011). Vahabi & Damba (2013) are of the view that a low socio-economic status impacts on a household’s ability to access adequate food by altering quality and quantity of food purchases.
Furthermore, several researchers (Dharod et al., 2013; Anderson et al., 2014; Sanou et al., 2014) are of the view that immigrant households of low socio-economic status tend to adopt unhealthy dietary transitions. An illustrative example is the observation by Anderson et al. (2014) on Sudanese immigrants in the USA who replaced high-cost and micronutrient-dense food items with cheaper energy-dense, processed food and snacks. This form of dietary change is unhealthy because it lacks dietary diversity and results in excessive consumption of energy. and unhealthy fats. These inappropriate dietary changes are associated with weight gain, development of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other nutrition-related problems (Schönfeldt & Hall, 2012). In Africa, the tendency to adopt unhealthy eating patterns was also observed by Ross et al. (2016). The observed unhealthy eating habits included intake of high sugar and fried/ salty snacks, candy, sweet baked goods and sweetened fruit drinks.
Studies indicate that due to the high levels of food insecurity within immigrant communities, the majority of them end up depending on social support programmes (Dharod et al., 2011, 2013; Jacobus & Jalali, 2011; Anderson et al., 2014). These food assistance programmes vary from country to country. Some offer money to unemployed immigrants, while others offer food items (Vahabi et al., 2011). However, it has been shown that social support programmes are not able to solve the problem of food insecurity among immigrants (Dharod et al., 2011; Vahabi et al., 2011; Anderson et al., 2014). For example, 55% of Somali immigrant households in the USA that received social support once a month received benefits that lasted for less than a month, which rendered them vulnerable to food insecurity (Dharod et al., 2011). This was confirmed by Vahambi & Damba (2013), who showed that the majority of respondents who received money from the state welfare programme in Toronto, Canada could not meet their household food costs. Furthermore, Anderson et al.(2014) reported that social support programmes were insufficient, by noting that recipients were unable to cover their food and housing costs. In fact, according to some authors, the prevalence of food insecurity tends to be higher among the beneficiaries of social support programmes (Dharod et al., 2011; Vahabi et al., 2011; Vahabi & Damba, 2013). Although food security was not mentioned specifically in a study by Ross et al. (2016), more Liberian refugees living in Buduburam refugee camp than Ghanaians reported to have borrowed money in the past year and low employment levels suggest vulnerability to food insecurity.

1.1 Background
1.2 Rationale
1.3 Research problem
1.4 Research questions
1.5 Hypotheses
1.6 Aim of the study
1.7 Research objectives
1.8 Main concepts of the study.
1.9 Anticipated benefits from the study
1.10 Limitations of the study
1.11 Thesis outline
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Defining ethnic foods and ethnic restaurants
2.3 Overview of the immigrant population in South Africa
2.4 Socio-economic status of immigrants
2.5 Food security status of the immigrants
2.6 Factors that affect dietary choices of immigrants upon resettlement in host countries
2.7 Food safety in ethnic food markets and restaurants
2.8 An overview of the South African food safety regulations relevant to ethnic food markets and restaurant
2.9 Microbiological organisms isolated in this study
2.10 Summary
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Research design
3.3 Data collection methods and instruments
3.4 Sampling strategy and sampling procedure
3.5 Methodological framework
3.6 Field work: Pilot study
3.7 Main Data gathering
3.8 Laboratory analysis
3.9 Data analysis
3.10 Ethical considerations
4.1 Introduction.
4.2 Section A: Continuation with ethnic dietary patterns: lessons from sub-Saharan immigrants residing in Gauteng
4.3 Section B: Results of the demographic characteristics and hygiene practices of vendors of ethnic foods
4.4 Section C : Results on microbial quality of the selected ethnic foods and predictors of contamination
5.1 Recap of the aim and objectives of the study
5.2 Overview of the conclusions of the study
5.3 Recommendations

Related Posts