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Immigrant status and cognitive functioning in late-life: An examination of gender variations in the healthy immigrant effect

Author

Listed:
  • Hill, Terrence D.
  • Angel, Jacqueline L.
  • Balistreri, Kelly S.
  • Herrera, Angelica P.

Abstract

Although some research suggests that the healthy immigrant effect extends to cognitive functioning, it is unclear whether this general pattern varies according to gender. We use six waves of data collected from the original cohort of the Hispanic Established Populations for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly to estimate a series of linear growth curve models to assess variations in cognitive functioning trajectories by nativity status and age at migration to the U.S.A. among women and men. Our results show, among women and men, no differences in baseline cognitive status (intercepts) between early- (before age 20) and late-life (50 and older) immigrants and U.S.-born individuals of Mexican-origin. We also find, among women and men, that middle-life (between the ages of 20 and 49) immigrants tend to exhibit higher levels of baseline cognitive functioning than the U.S.-born. Our growth curve analyses suggest that the cognitive functioning trajectories (slopes) of women do not vary according to nativity status and age at migration. The cognitive functioning trajectories of early- and late-life immigrant men are also similar to those of U.S.-born men; however, those men who migrated in middle-life tend to exhibit slower rates of cognitive decline. A statistically significant interaction term suggests that the pattern for middle-life migration is more pronounced for men (or attenuated for women). In other words, although women and men who migrated in middle-life exhibit higher levels of baseline cognitive functioning, immigrant men tend to maintain this advantage for a longer period of time. Taken together, these patterns confirm that gender is an important conditioning factor in the association between immigrant status and cognitive functioning.

Suggested Citation

  • Hill, Terrence D. & Angel, Jacqueline L. & Balistreri, Kelly S. & Herrera, Angelica P., 2012. "Immigrant status and cognitive functioning in late-life: An examination of gender variations in the healthy immigrant effect," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(12), pages 2076-2084.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:12:p:2076-2084
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.04.005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert Kaestner & Jay A. Pearson & Danya Keene & Arline T. Geronimus, 2009. "Stress, Allostatic Load, and Health of Mexican Immigrants," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1089-1111.
    2. Guillermina Jasso & Douglas S. Massey & Mark R. Rosenzweig & James P. Smith, 2004. "Immigrant Health--Selectivity and Acculturation," Labor and Demography 0412002, EconWPA.
    3. Heather Antecol & Kelly Bedard, 2006. "Unhealthy assimilation: Why do immigrants converge to American health status levels?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 43(2), pages 337-360, May.
    4. Abraído-Lanza, Ana F. & Chao, Maria T. & Flórez, Karen R., 2005. "Do healthy behaviors decline with greater acculturation?: Implications for the Latino mortality paradox," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(6), pages 1243-1255, September.
    5. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2001:91:9:1424-1430_2 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2008.133744_5 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Mary N. Haan & Adina Zeki Al-Hazzouri & Allison E. Aiello, 2011. "Life-span Socioeconomic Trajectory, Nativity, and Cognitive Aging in Mexican Americans: The Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 66(suppl_1), pages 102-110.
    8. Terrence D. Hill & Amy M. Burdette & Jacqueline L. Angel & Ronald J. Angel, 2006. "Religious Attendance and Cognitive Functioning Among Older Mexican Americans," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 61(1), pages 3-9.
    9. Rachel Tolbert Kimbro, 2009. "Acculturation in Context: Gender, Age at Migration, Neighborhood Ethnicity, and Health Behaviors," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1145-1166.
    10. Ronald J. Angel & Jacqueline L. Angel & Terrence D. Hill, 2009. "Subjective Control and Health Among Mexican-Origin Elders in Mexico and the United States: Structural Considerations in Comparative Research," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 64(3), pages 390-401.
    11. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2007.129312_0 is not listed on IDEAS
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