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Social determinants of health in Canada's immigrant population: results from the National Population Health Survey


  • Dunn, James R.
  • Dyck, Isabel


As part of the Metropolis project -- a large-scale investigation of immigration and integration, including well-being of immigrants in a number of areas of social life -- in this paper we investigate the social determinants of health in Canada's immigrant population using Canada's National Population Health Survey (NPHS). Specifically, we examine differences in health status and health care utilization between immigrants and non-immigrants, immigrants of European and non-European origin, and immigrants of 10 years' residence in Canada. We also examine social determinants of health care utilization and health status in immigrants and non-immigrants, and evaluate the utility of large-scale, national databases for these purposes. Our conceptual approach draws upon a 'population health' perspective, which suggests that the most important antecedents of human health status are not medical care inputs and health behaviours (smoking, diet, exercise, etc.), but rather social and economic characteristics of individuals and populations. We find no obvious, consistent pattern of association between socio-economic characteristics and immigration characteristics on the one hand, and health status on the other, in the NPHS data. This does not mean that socio-economic factors in Canada are not influential in shaping immigrants' health status. In fact, the results of the logistic regression models calculated for immigrants and non-immigrants on four outcome variables in this study suggest that socio-economic factors are more important for immigrants than non-immigrants, although in ways that defy a simple explanation. The complexity of immigrants' experiences, combined with the inherent limitations of cross-sectional survey data are discussed as major limitations to this kind of research.

Suggested Citation

  • Dunn, James R. & Dyck, Isabel, 2000. "Social determinants of health in Canada's immigrant population: results from the National Population Health Survey," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 51(11), pages 1573-1593, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:51:y:2000:i:11:p:1573-1593

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    Cited by:

    1. Astri Syse & Bjorn H. Strand & Oyvind Naess & Ólöf Anna Steingrímsdóttir & Bernadette N. Kumar, 2016. "Differences in all-cause mortality," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 34(22), pages 615-656, March.
    2. Karen M. Kobayashi & Steven Prus & Zhiqiu Lin, 2008. "Ethnic Differences in Health: Does Immigration Status Matter?," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 230, McMaster University.
    3. Wang, Lu & Hu, Wei, 2013. "Immigrant health, place effect and regional disparities in Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 8-17.
    4. Antonio Fidalgo & Alberto Holly & Marco Pecoraro & Philippe Wanner, 2016. "A nonparametric analysis of the healthy immigrant effect," IRENE Working Papers 16-15, IRENE Institute of Economic Research.
    5. Newbold, K. Bruce & Neligan, David, 2012. "Disaggregating Canadian immigrant smoking behaviour by country of birth," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(6), pages 997-1005.
    6. Rivera, Berta & Casal, Bruno & Currais, Luis, 2013. "Healthy Immigrant Effect: Trayectoria de salud de la población inmigrante a partir de la ENSE 2011-2012/Healthy Immigrant Effect: An Empirical Approach to the Health Trajectory of Immigrant Population," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 31, pages 339-358, Septiembr.
    7. Sara Rellstab & Marco Pecoraro & Alberto Holly & Philippe Wanner & Karine Renard, 2016. "The Migrant Health Gap and the Role of Labour Market Status: Evidence from Switzerland," IRENE Working Papers 16-14, IRENE Institute of Economic Research.
    8. Acevedo-Garcia, Dolores & Bates, Lisa M. & Osypuk, Theresa L. & McArdle, Nancy, 2010. "The effect of immigrant generation and duration on self-rated health among US adults 2003-2007," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(6), pages 1161-1172, September.
    9. Jatrana, Santosh & Pasupuleti, Samba Siva Rao & Richardson, Ken, 2014. "Nativity, duration of residence and chronic health conditions in Australia: Do trends converge towards the native-born population?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 53-63.
    10. Steven Prus & Zhiqiu Lin, 2005. "Ethnicity and Health: An Analysis of Physical Health Differences across Twenty-one Ethnocultural Groups in Canada," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 143, McMaster University.
    11. Ramraj, Chantel & Pulver, Ariel & Siddiqi, Arjumand, 2015. "Intergenerational transmission of the healthy immigrant effect (HIE) through birth weight: A systematic review and meta-analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 29-40.
    12. Sergi Jimenez & Natalia Jorgensen & José María Labeaga, 2008. "Immigration and the Demand for Health in Spain," Working Papers 2008-38, FEDEA.
    13. Amoyaw, Jonathan Anim & Abada, Teresa, 2016. "Does helping them benefit me? Examining the emotional cost and benefit of immigrants' pecuniary remittance behaviour in Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 182-192.
    14. Chadwick, Kathryn A. & Collins, Patricia A., 2015. "Examining the relationship between social support availability, urban center size, and self-perceived mental health of recent immigrants to Canada: A mixed-methods analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 220-230.
    15. Zunzunegui, Maria-Victoria & Forster, Mathieu & Gauvin, Lise & Raynault, Marie-France & Douglas Willms, J., 2006. "Community unemployment and immigrants' health in Montreal," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 485-500, July.
    16. 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.
    17. Ahmed, Nina, 2005. "Intergenerational Impact of Immigrants' Selection and Assimilation on Health Outcomes of Children," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2005247e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    18. Gadalla, Tahany M., 2009. "Determinants, correlates and mediators of psychological distress: A longitudinal study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(12), pages 2199-2205, June.
    19. Dean, Jennifer Asanin & Wilson, Kathi, 2010. ""My health has improved because I always have everything I need here...": A qualitative exploration of health improvement and decline among immigrants," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(8), pages 1219-1228, April.
    20. Wang, Lu & Rosenberg, Mark & Lo, Lucia, 2008. "Ethnicity and utilization of family physicians: A case study of Mainland Chinese immigrants in Toronto, Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(9), pages 1410-1422, November.
    21. Newbold, K.Bruce & Simone, Dylan, 2015. "Comparing disability amongst immigrants and native-born in Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 53-62.
    22. Wang, Lu & Kwak, Min-Jung, 2015. "Immigration, barriers to healthcare and transnational ties: A case study of South Korean immigrants in Toronto, Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 340-348.


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