The Healthy Immigrant Effect and Immigrant Selection: Evidence from Four Countries
The existence of a healthy immigrant effect – where immigrants are on average healthier than the native-born – is now a well accepted phenomenon. There are many competing explanations for this phenomenon including health screening by recipient countries, healthy behaviour prior to migration followed by the steady adoption of new country (less) healthy behaviours, and immigrant self-selection where healthier and wealthier people tend to be migrants. We explore the last two of these explanations for the healthy immigrant effect by examining the health outcomes, health behaviours, and socio-economic characteristics of immigrants from a range of source countries in the US, Canada, UK and Australia. We find evidence of strong positive selection effects for immigrants from all regions of origin in terms of education. However, we also find evidence that self-selection in terms of unobservable factors is an important determinant of the better health of recent immigrants.
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