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The Healthy Immigrant Paradox and Health Convergence

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  • Constant, Amelie F.

Abstract

The health status of people is a precious commodity and central to economic, socio-political, and environmental dimensions of any country. Yet it is often the missing statistic in all general statistics, demographics, and presentations about the portrait of immigrants and natives. In this paper we are concerned with international migration and health outcomes in the host countries. Through a general literature review and examination of specific immigration countries, we provide insights into the Healthy Immigrant Paradox and the health assimilation of immigrants as we also elucidate selection and measurement challenges. While health is part of human capital, health assimilation is the mirror image of earnings assimilation. Namely, immigrants arrive with better health compared to natives and their health deteriorates with longer residence in the host country, converging to the health of natives or becoming even worse. A deeper understanding of immigrant health trajectories, and disparities with natives and other immigrants is of great value to societies and policymakers, who can design appropriate policy frameworks that address public health challenges, and prevent the health deterioration of immigrants.

Suggested Citation

  • Constant, Amelie F., 2017. "The Healthy Immigrant Paradox and Health Convergence," GLO Discussion Paper Series 124, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:124
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Amelie F. Constant & Teresa García-Muñoz & Shoshana Neuman & Tzahi Neuman, 2018. "A “healthy immigrant effect” or a “sick immigrant effect”? Selection and policies matter," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 19(1), pages 103-121, January.
    2. Heather Antecol & Kelly Bedard, 2006. "Unhealthy assimilation: Why do immigrants converge to American health status levels?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 43(2), pages 337-360, May.
    3. Noreen Goldman & Anne Pebley & Mathew Creighton & Graciela Teruel & Luis Rubalcava & Chang Chung, 2014. "The Consequences of Migration to the United States for Short-Term Changes in the Health of Mexican Immigrants," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(4), pages 1159-1173, August.
    4. Liam Delaney & Alan Fernihough & James Smith, 2013. "Exporting Poor Health: The Irish in England," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(6), pages 2013-2035, December.
    5. Neil Mehta & Irma Elo, 2012. "Migrant Selection and the Health of U.S. Immigrants From the Former Soviet Union," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(2), pages 425-447, May.
    6. Guillermina Jasso & Douglas S. Massey & Mark R. Rosenzweig & James P. Smith, 2004. "Immigrant Health--Selectivity and Acculturation," Labor and Demography 0412002, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Erika Arenas & Noreen Goldman & Anne Pebley & Graciela Teruel, 2015. "Return Migration to Mexico: Does Health Matter?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 52(6), pages 1853-1868, December.
    8. Julien Teitler & Melissa Martinson & Nancy E. Reichman, 2017. "Does Life in the United States Take a Toll on Health? Duration of Residence and Birthweight among Six Decades of Immigrants," International Migration Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(1), pages 37-66, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Constant, Amelie F., 2020. "Time-Space Dynamics of Return and Circular Migration: Theories and Evidence," GLO Discussion Paper Series 446, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    2. Gabriella Berloffa & Francesca Paolini, 2019. "Decomposing Immigrant Differences in Physical and Mental Health: A 'Beyond the Mean' Analysis," DEM Working Papers 2019/4, Department of Economics and Management.
    3. Constant, Amelie F. & Milewski, Nadja, 2021. "Self-selection in physical and mental health among older intra-European migrants," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 19(C).
    4. Bettin, Giulia & Sacchi, Agnese, 2020. "Health spending in Italy: The impact of immigrants," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health status; Healthy Immigrant Paradox; International migration; Assimilation; Age-Cohort-Period effects; Selection; Aging;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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