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Unhealthy Assimilation: Why Do Immigrants Converge to American Health Status Levels?

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Author Info

  • Antecol, Heather

    ()
    (Claremont McKenna College)

  • Bedard, Kelly

    ()
    (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Abstract

It is well documented that immigrants are in better health upon arrival in the United States than their American counterparts, but that this health advantage erodes over time. We study the potential determinants of this "healthy immigrant effect", with a particular focus on the tendency of immigrants to converge to unhealthy American BMI levels. Using data from the National Health Interview Survey, we find that the average female and male immigrants enter the U.S. with BMIs that are approximately two and five percentage points lower than native-born women and men, respectively. And, consistent with the declining health status of immigrants the longer they remain in the United States, we also find that female immigrants almost completely converge to American BMIs within ten years of arrival and men close a third of the gap within fifteen years.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1654.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Demography, 2006, 43 (2), 337-360
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1654

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Related research

Keywords: immigrant; assimilation; health;

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References

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  1. Antecol, Heather & Kuhn, Peter J. & Trejo, Stephen, 2003. "Assimilation via Prices or Quantities? Labor Market Institutions and Immigrant Earnings Growth in Australia, Canada, and the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 802, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Dora L. Costa & Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Long-Term Trends in Health, Welfare, and Economic Growth in the United States," NBER Historical Working Papers 0076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Cutler, David & Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," Scholarly Articles 2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-94, December.
  5. Susan Averett & Sanders Korenman, 1996. "The Economic Reality of the Beauty Myth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(2), pages 304-330.
  6. Catherine Deri, 2005. "Understanding the 'Healthy Immigrant Effect' in Canada," Working Papers 0502E, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
  7. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," Working Papers 0203, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  8. Christine Himes, 2000. "Obesity, disease, and functional limitation in later life," Demography, Springer, vol. 37(1), pages 73-82, February.
  9. Borjas, George J & Hilton, Lynette, 1996. "Immigration and the Welfare State: Immigrant Participation in Means-Tested Entitlement Programs," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 575-604, May.
  10. David Cutler & Edward Glaeser & Jesse Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," NBER Working Papers 9446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Robert J. LaLonde & Robert H. Topel, 1992. "The Assimilation of Immigrants in the U. S. Labor Market," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas, pages 67-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Mireille Laroche, 2000. "Health Status and Health Services Utilization of Canada's Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Populations," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 26(1), pages 51-75, March.
  13. Shin-Yi Chou & Michael Grossman & Henry Saffer, 2002. "An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," NBER Working Papers 9247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Borjas, George J, 1985. "Assimilation, Changes in Cohort Quality, and the Earnings of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 463-89, October.
  15. Guillermina Jasso & Douglas S. Massey & Mark R. Rosenzweig & James P. Smith, 2004. "Immigrant health: selectivity and acculturation," IFS Working Papers W04/23, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  16. Tomas J. Philipson & Richard A. Posner, 1999. "The Long-Run Growth in Obesity as a Function of Technological Change," NBER Working Papers 7423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Chiswick, Barry R, 1986. "Is the New Immigration Less Skilled Than the Old?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(2), pages 168-92, April.
  18. 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.
  19. John Cawley, 2000. "Body Weight and Women's Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 7841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. 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.
  21. Tomas Philipson, 2001. "The world-wide growth in obesity: an economic research agenda," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(1), pages 1-7.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Deb, Partha & Seck, Papa, 2009. "Internal Migration, Selection Bias and Human Development: Evidence from Indonesia and Mexico," MPRA Paper 19214, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Yuriy Pylypchuk & Julie Hudson, 2009. "Immigrants and the use of preventive care in the United States," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(7), pages 783-806.
  3. Pedro Pita Barros & Isabel Medalho Pereira, 2010. "Health Care and Health Outcomes of Migrants: Evidence from Portugal," CEFAGE-UE Working Papers 2010_04, University of Evora, CEFAGE-UE (Portugal).
  4. Pervi Sevak & Lucie Schmidt, 2008. "Immigrant-Native Fertility and Mortality Differentials in the United States," Working Papers wp181, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  5. Erin Hamilton & Jodi Berger Cardoso & Robert Hummer & Yolanda C. Padilla, 2011. "Assimilation and emerging health disparities among new generations of U.S. children," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 25(25), pages 783-818, December.
  6. James Ted McDonald, 2005. "The Health Behaviors of Immigrants and Native-born People in Canada," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 144, McMaster University.
  7. Neeraj Kaushal, 2009. "Adversities of acculturation? Prevalence of obesity among immigrants," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(3), pages 291-303.
  8. Pia Orrenius & Madeline Zavodny, 2009. "Do immigrants work in riskier jobs?," Demography, Springer, vol. 46(3), pages 535-551, August.
  9. Averett, Susan L. & Argys, Laura & Kohn, Jennifer L., 2012. "Immigration, Obesity and Labor Market Outcomes in the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 6454, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Monika Sander, 2008. "Changes in Immigrants' Body Mass Index with Their Duration of Residence in Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 122, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).

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