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Examining the "Healthy Immigrant Effect" in Later Life: Findings from the Canadian Community Health Survey

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  • Ellen M. Gee
  • Karen M. Kobayashi
  • Steven G. Prus
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    Abstract

    Recent studies have established that a "healthy immigrant effect" operates in Canada -- immigrants are generally healthier than Canadian-born persons -- but that this effect tends to diminish over time, as the health of immigrants converges to the Canadian norm. Although this effect has been examined by place of birth, language, marital status, socio-economic status, charter language ability, and category of immigrant status in Canada, less is known about the "healthy immigrant effect" at different stages of the life course, particularly in mid- to later adulthood, stages at which there is an increased likelihood of decline in physical and mental health status. This study examines how age at immigration affects the health of mid- to later life immigrants, compared to Canadian-born persons, using data from the 2000-01 Canadian Community Health Survey. These data indicate that the "healthy immigrant effect" applies to later mid-life immigrants; that is, new immigrants -- those who immigrated less than 10 years ago -- aged 45-64 have better functional and self-rated health compared to their longer-term counterparts -- those who immigrated 10 or more years ago -- whose health status is similar to Canadian-born persons. Interestingly, a different picture emerges in old age (65 + years) where recent immigrants have poorer overall health compared to longer-term residents and the Canadian-born. This disadvantage, however, disappears after controlling for selected socio-demographic, socio- economic, and health behaviour factors. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for Canadian health care policy and program planning for immigrants in the latter stages of the life course.

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    File URL: http://socserv.mcmaster.ca/sedap/p/sedap98.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by McMaster University in its series Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers with number 98.

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    Length: 36 pages
    Date of creation: Mar 2003
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:mcm:sedapp:98

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    Keywords: "healthy immigrant effect"; mid-life; later life; functional health; self-rated health;

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    1. McDonough, Peggy & Walters, Vivienne, 2001. "Gender and health: reassessing patterns and explanations," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 547-559, February.
    2. 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.
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