Immigration and low birthweight in the US: The role of time and timing
The literature exploring the health consequences of immigration is largely dominated by efforts to replicate, across outcomes and populations, and explain two widely observed findings: that foreign nativity is protective (yielding the “healthy migrant effect” or “immigrant paradox”) and that the health advantage of immigrants diminishes over time in the host country. In this study, we focus on the second of these patterns and provide evidence that a lifecourse perspective can help to explain the apparent deterioration in health by incorporating attention to immigrants’ timing of arrival. We examine the role of immigrants’ exposure to the US, in terms of both age at immigration and length of residence, in shaping birthweight, a well measured and consequential marker of health, and maternal smoking, an important risk factor for low birthweight.
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