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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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Keywords: immigrant; assimilation; health;

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References

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  1. David Cutler & Edward Glaeser & Jesse Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," NBER Working Papers 9446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. George J. Borjas & Stephen J. Trejo, 1990. "Immigrant Participation in the Welfare System," NBER Working Papers 3423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Pita Barros, Pedro & Medalho Pereira, Isabel, 2009. "Health Care and Health Outcomes of Migrants: Evidence from Portugal," MPRA Paper 18201, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. 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.
  3. Neeraj Kaushal, 2009. "Adversities of acculturation? Prevalence of obesity among immigrants," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(3), pages 291-303.
  4. 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.
  5. Pia M. Orrenius & Madeline Zavodny, 2009. "Do immigrants work in riskier jobs?," Working Papers 0901, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  6. 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.
  7. 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).
  8. 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.
  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. 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.

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