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Do immigrants improve the health of natives?

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  • Giuntella, Osea
  • Mazzonna, Fabrizio

Abstract

This paper studies the effects of immigration on health. Specifically, we merge information on individual characteristics from the German Socio-Economic Panel (1984–2009) with detailed local labour market characteristics, and we then exploit the longitudinal component of the data to determine how immigration affects the health of both immigrants and natives over time. We find that immigrants to Germany are healthier than natives upon their arrival (the healthy immigrant effect) but that immigrants’ health deteriorates over time. We show that the convergence in health is heterogeneous across immigrants and occurs more rapidly among those working in more physically demanding jobs. Because immigrants are significantly more likely to work in strenuous occupations, we investigate whether changes in the spatial concentration of immigrants affect the health of the native population. Our results suggest that immigration reduces the likelihood that residents will report negative health outcomes. We show that these effects are concentrated in blue-collar occupations and are stronger among low-educated natives. Improvements in natives’ average working conditions and workloads help explain the positive effects of immigration on the health of the native population.

Suggested Citation

  • Giuntella, Osea & Mazzonna, Fabrizio, 2015. "Do immigrants improve the health of natives?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 140-153.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:43:y:2015:i:c:p:140-153
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2015.06.006
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health; Immigration; Occupational choice;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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