Psychotic symptoms (PS) are experienced by a substantial proportion of the general population. When not reaching a threshold of clinical relevance, these symptoms are defined as psychotic experiences (PEs) and may exist on a continuum with psychotic disorders. Unfavorable socio-environmental conditions, such as ethnic minority position (EMP) and migrant status (MS), may increase the risk of developing PS and PEs. We conducted an electronic systematic review and a meta-analysis assessing the role of EMP and MS for the development and persistence of PS in the general population. Sub-group analyses were performed investigating the influence of ethnic groups, host countries, age, types of PS, and scales. Twenty-four studies met our inclusion criteria. EMP was a relevant risk factor for reporting PS [odds ratio (OR) 1.44, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.22–1.70) and PEs (OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.16–1.60). The greatest risk was observed in people from the Maghreb and the Middle East ethnic groups in Europe (OR 3.30, 95% CI 2.09–5.21), in Hispanic in the USA (OR 1.98, 95% CI 1.43–2.73), and in the Black populations (OR 1.85, 95% CI 1.39–2.47). We found a significant association between MS and delusional symptoms (OR 1.47, 95% CI 1.33–1.62). We found no association between EMP and persistence of PEs.
EMP was associated with increased risk of reporting PS and PEs, and the risk was higher in ethnic groups facing deprivation and discrimination. We found an association between MS and delusional symptoms. These results raise questions about the precise role of socio-environmental factors along the psychosis continuum.