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Revisiting the Hispanic mortality advantage in the United States: The role of smoking

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  • Fenelon, Andrew

Abstract

More than three decades of health disparities research in the United States has consistently found lower adult mortality risks among Hispanics than their non-Hispanic white counterparts, despite lower socioeconomic status among Hispanics. Explanations for the “Hispanic Paradox” include selective migration and cultural factors, though neither has received convincing support. This paper uses a large nationally representative survey of health and smoking behavior to examine whether smoking can explain life expectancy advantage of Hispanics over US-born non-Hispanics whites, with special attention to individuals of Mexican origin. It tests the selective migration hypothesis using data on smoking among Mexico-to-US migrants in Mexico and the United States. Both US-born and foreign-born Mexican-Americans exhibit a life expectancy advantage vis-à-vis whites. All other Hispanics only show a longevity advantage among the foreign-born, while those born in the United States are disadvantaged relative to whites. Smoking-attributable mortality explains the majority of the advantage for Mexican-Americans, with more than 60% of the gap deriving from lower rates of smoking among Mexican-Americans. There is no evidence of selective migration with respect to smoking; Mexicans who migrate to the US smoke at similar rates to Mexicans who remain in Mexico, with both groups smoking substantially less than non-Hispanic whites in the US. The results suggest that more research is needed to effectively explain the low burden of smoking among Mexican-Americans in the United States.

Suggested Citation

  • Fenelon, Andrew, 2013. "Revisiting the Hispanic mortality advantage in the United States: The role of smoking," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 1-9.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:82:y:2013:i:c:p:1-9
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.12.028
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Constant, Amelie F. & García-Muñoz, Teresa & Neuman, Shoshana & Neuman, Tzahi, 2014. "Micro and Macro Determinants of Health: Older Immigrants in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 8754, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Joseph T. Lariscy & Claudia Nau & Glenn Firebaugh & Robert A. Hummer, 2016. "Hispanic-White Differences in Lifespan Variability in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(1), pages 215-239, February.
    3. repec:bla:intmig:v:51:y:2017:i:3:p:567-599 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Neil K. Mehta & Irma T. Elo & Michal Engelman & Diane S. Lauderdale & Bert M. Kestenbaum, 2016. "Life Expectancy Among U.S.-born and Foreign-born Older Adults in the United States: Estimates From Linked Social Security and Medicare Data," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(4), pages 1109-1134, August.
    5. repec:eee:jhecon:v:54:y:2017:i:c:p:1-16 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Becky Wade & Joseph Lariscy & Robert Hummer, 2013. "Racial/Ethnic and Nativity Patterns of U.S. Adolescent and Young Adult Smoking," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 32(3), pages 353-371, June.
    7. Fernando Riosmena & Randall Kuhn & Warren C. Jochem, 2017. "Explaining the Immigrant Health Advantage: Self-selection and Protection in Health-Related Factors Among Five Major National-Origin Immigrant Groups in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(1), pages 175-200, February.
    8. Osea Giuntella, 2016. "Assimilation and Health: Evidence From Linked Birth Records of Second- and Third-Generation Hispanics," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(6), pages 1979-2004, December.
    9. Samuel H. Preston & Irma T. Elo, 2014. "Anatomy of a Municipal Triumph: New York City's Upsurge in Life Expectancy," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 40(1), pages 1-29, March.

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