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Immigration and the health of U.S. black adults: Does country of origin matter?

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  • Hamilton, Tod G.
  • Hummer, Robert A.
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    Abstract

    Previous work suggests that regional variation in pre-migration exposure to racism and discrimination, measured by a region's racial composition, predicts differences in individual-level health among black immigrants to the United States. We exploit data on both region and country of birth for black immigrants in the United States and methodology that allows for the identification of arrival cohorts to test whether there are sending country differences in the health of black adults in the United States that support this proposition. While testing this hypothesis, we also document heterogeneity in health across arrival cohorts and by duration of U.S. residence among black immigrants. Using data on working-age immigrant and U.S.-born blacks taken from the 1996–2010 waves of the March Current Population Survey, we show that relative to U.S.-born black adults, black immigrants report significantly lower odds of fair/poor health. After controlling for relevant social and demographic characteristics, immigrants’ cohort of arrival, and immigrants’ duration in the United States, our models show only modest differences in health between African immigrants and black immigrants who migrate from the other major sending countries or regions. Results also show that African immigrants maintain their health advantage over U.S.-born black adults after more than 20 years in the United States. In contrast, black immigrants from the Caribbean who have been in the United States for more than 20 years appear to experience some downward health assimilation. In conclusion, after accounting for relevant factors, we find that there are only modest differences in black immigrant health across countries of origin. Black immigrants appear to be very highly selected in terms of good health, although there are some indications of negative health assimilation for black immigrants from the Caribbean.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 73 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 10 ()
    Pages: 1551-1560

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:73:y:2011:i:10:p:1551-1560

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    Keywords: USA; Immigrants; Racism; Health Disparities; Blacks; Race; Discrimination; Nativity; Selection; Healthy migrant effect;

    References

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    1. Edward Funkhouser & Stephen J. Trejo, 1995. "The labor market skills of recent male immigrants: Evidence from the Current Population Survey," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(4), pages 792-811, July.
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    8. Cynthia Feliciano, 2005. "Educational selectivity in U.S. Immigration: How do immigrants compare to those left behind?," Demography, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 131-152, February.
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    12. Abraído-Lanza, Ana F. & Chao, Maria T. & Flórez, Karen R., 2005. "Do healthy behaviors decline with greater acculturation?: Implications for the Latino mortality paradox," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(6), pages 1243-1255, September.
    13. Cassio Turra & Irma Elo, 2008. "The Impact of Salmon Bias on the Hispanic Mortality Advantage: New Evidence from Social Security Data," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 27(5), pages 515-530, October.
    14. Jacqueline L. Angel & Cynthia J. Buckley & Art Sakamoto, 2001. "Duration or Disadvantage? Exploring Nativity, Ethnicity, and Health in Midlife," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 56(5), pages S275-S284.
    15. McDonald, James Ted & Kennedy, Steven, 2004. "Insights into the 'healthy immigrant effect': health status and health service use of immigrants to Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(8), pages 1613-1627, October.
    16. Heather Antecol & Kelly Bedard, 2006. "Unhealthy assimilation: Why do immigrants converge to American health status levels?," Demography, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 337-360, May.
    17. Robert Hummer & Daniel Powers & Starling Pullum & Ginger Gossman & W. Frisbie, 2007. "Paradox found (again): Infant mortality among the Mexican-origin population in the united states," Demography, Springer, vol. 44(3), pages 441-457, August.
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    Cited by:
    1. Alcántara, Carmela & Chen, Chih-Nan & Alegría, Margarita, 2014. "Do post-migration perceptions of social mobility matter for Latino immigrant health?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 94-106.
    2. Rivera, Berta & Casal, Bruno & Currais, Luis, 2013. "Healthy Immigrant Effect: Trayectoria de salud de la población inmigrante a partir de la ENSE 2011-2012/Healthy Immigrant Effect: An Empirical Approach to the Health Trajectory of Immigrant Populatio," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 31, pages 339-358, Septiembr.

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