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Child Well-Being and the Intergenerational Effects of Undocumented Immigrant Status


  • S. M. Kanaiaupuni


Immigrant status carries considerable challenges to survival and mobility in U.S. society. As an emerging dimension of social stratification, legal status further complicates the situation, influencing not only immigrants but also their children. Using data collected in Houston and San Diego, this study examines the intergenerational health consequences of undocumented status for child well-being. The main findings support my argument that children with undocumented immigrant parents suffer higher risks of poverty and poor health than children in legal households, and that children in mixed-status households are equally disadvantaged despite having a legal adult at home. In contrast, children in legal households are wealthier and have more food, better living quarters, better health insurance status, and better health status. The drawbacks of being raised in families with one or more unauthorized residents offer further evidence of a growing policy dilemma about access to health care and the general well-being of this vulnerable population of children. Addressing these needs carries particular significance for the future of a growing Chicana/o population, among whom these findings document an observable health deficit. As such, this deficit, which may also exist among other Latino groups experiencing high rates of undocumented migration and uncertain legal status outcomes, contributes to existing health disparities and racial and ethnic inequality in the United States.

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  • S. M. Kanaiaupuni, "undated". "Child Well-Being and the Intergenerational Effects of Undocumented Immigrant Status," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1210-00, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:wispod:1210-00

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Katharine Donato & Jorge Durand & Douglas Massey, 1992. "Stemming the tide? Assessing the deterrent effects of the immigration reform and control act," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 29(2), pages 139-157, May.
    2. Scribner, R. & Dwyer, J.H., 1989. "Acculturation and low birthweight among Latinos in the Hispanic HANES," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 79(9), pages 1263-1267.
    3. Douglas Massey & Audrey Singer, 1995. "New Estimates of Undocumented Mexican Migration and the Probability of Apprehension," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 32(2), pages 203-213, May.
    4. Julie Phillips & Douglas Massey, 1999. "The new labor market: Immigrants and wages after IRCA," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 36(2), pages 233-246, May.
    5. Weeks, John R. & Rumbaut, Rubén G., 1991. "Infant mortality among ethnic immigrant groups," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 327-334, January.
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    1. Ayón, Cecilia & Marcenko, Maureen O., 2008. "Depression among Latino children in the public child welfare system," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(12), pages 1366-1375, December.
    2. Ayón, Cecilia, 2009. "Shorter time-lines, yet higher hurdles: Mexican families' access to child welfare mandated services," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 609-616, June.
    3. Joo, Myungkook, 2013. "Explaining heterogeneity in the child poverty rate among immigrant families: Differences by parental citizenship," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 668-677.

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