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Examining the "Healthy Immigrant Effect" in Later Life: Findings from the Canadian Community Health Survey


  • Ellen M. Gee
  • Karen M. Kobayashi
  • Steven G. Prus


Recent studies have established that a "healthy immigrant effect" operates in Canada -- immigrants are generally healthier than Canadian-born persons -- but that this effect tends to diminish over time, as the health of immigrants converges to the Canadian norm. Although this effect has been examined by place of birth, language, marital status, socio-economic status, charter language ability, and category of immigrant status in Canada, less is known about the "healthy immigrant effect" at different stages of the life course, particularly in mid- to later adulthood, stages at which there is an increased likelihood of decline in physical and mental health status. This study examines how age at immigration affects the health of mid- to later life immigrants, compared to Canadian-born persons, using data from the 2000-01 Canadian Community Health Survey. These data indicate that the "healthy immigrant effect" applies to later mid-life immigrants; that is, new immigrants -- those who immigrated less than 10 years ago -- aged 45-64 have better functional and self-rated health compared to their longer-term counterparts -- those who immigrated 10 or more years ago -- whose health status is similar to Canadian-born persons. Interestingly, a different picture emerges in old age (65 + years) where recent immigrants have poorer overall health compared to longer-term residents and the Canadian-born. This disadvantage, however, disappears after controlling for selected socio-demographic, socio- economic, and health behaviour factors. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for Canadian health care policy and program planning for immigrants in the latter stages of the life course.

Suggested Citation

  • Ellen M. Gee & Karen M. Kobayashi & Steven G. Prus, 2003. "Examining the "Healthy Immigrant Effect" in Later Life: Findings from the Canadian Community Health Survey," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 98, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:sedapp:98

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mireille Laroche, 2000. "Health Status and Health Services Utilization of Canada's Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Populations," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 26(1), pages 51-75, March.
    2. McDonough, Peggy & Walters, Vivienne, 2001. "Gender and health: reassessing patterns and explanations," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 547-559, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bruce Newbold, K., 2005. "Self-rated health within the Canadian immigrant population: risk and the healthy immigrant effect," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(6), pages 1359-1370, March.

    More about this item


    healthy immigrant effect; mid-life; later life; functional health; self-rated health;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

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