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The healthy migrant effect: New findings from the Mexican Family Life Survey


  • Rubalcava, L.N.
  • Teruel, G.M.
  • Thomas, D.
  • Goldman, N.


Objectives. We used nationally representative longitudinal data from the Mexican Family Life Survey to determine whether recent migrants from Mexico to the United States are healthier than other Mexicans. Previous research has provided little scientific evidence that tests the "healthy migrant" hypothesis. Methods. Estimates were derived from logistic regressions of whether respondents moved to the United States between surveys in 2002 and 2005, by gender and urban versus rural residence. Covariates included physical health measurements, self-reported health, and education measured in 2002. Our primary sample comprised 6446 respondents aged 15 to 29 years. Results. Health significantly predicted subsequent migration among females and rural males. However, the associations were weak, few health indicators were statistically significant, and there was substantial variation in the estimates between males and females and between urban and rural dwellers. Conclusions. On the basis of recent data for Mexico, the largest source of migrants to the United States, we found generally weak support for the healthy migrant hypothesis.

Suggested Citation

  • Rubalcava, L.N. & Teruel, G.M. & Thomas, D. & Goldman, N., 2008. "The healthy migrant effect: New findings from the Mexican Family Life Survey," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 98(1), pages 78-84.
  • Handle: RePEc:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2006.098418_3
    DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2006.098418

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