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January 12, 2011

is immigrating to the US bad for your health?

In general, young immigrants (ages 18-44) have much better health than people who were born in the USA. But the more years pass after they immigrate, the worse their health becomes.

(adopted by Peter Levine from Guillermino Jasso, Douglas S. Massey, Mark R. Rosenzweig, and James P. Smith, "Immigrant Health and Acculturation," in National Research Council, Critical Perspectives on Racial and Ethnic Differences in Late Life, 2004, table 7-6.)

I wouldn't make too much of the above graph all by itself, but I was separately told by a well-informed colleague that there is a well documented "immigrant paradox." Even as individuals grow more likely to have health insurance, stable employment, and stable housing, their health status falls towards the levels of native-born Americans of the same age.

It seems important to understand the reasons for this "paradox" so that we can improve the lives of large numbers of younger immigrants. Also, understanding why exposure to America seems to worsen health might reveal some important, general facts about life in America.

January 12, 2011 7:12 PM | category: none



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