Migrant Health Selection from Five Major Sources of U.S. Immigration

Fernando Riosmena, University of Colorado at Boulder
Randall Kuhn, University of Denver
Chris Jochem, University of Colorado at Boulder

Immigrants to the United States generally exhibit better health outcomes than U.S.-born populations. Although this may derive from a high positive health selection among migrants relative to their peers in the sending country, little research has empirically tested for selection in groups other than Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. We match data on the foreign-born from India, China, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico from the National Health Interview Survey in the U.S. to nonmigrants living in the sending country interviewed in the World Health Survey. Using matching techniques, we compare the height and prevalence of smoking and obesity of immigrant men and women with those of people living in sending nations with similar ages and socioeconomic status. With some exceptions and consistent with selection, we find that immigrant men and (to a lesser extent) women are taller and have a lower prevalence of smoking and obesity than nonmigrants.

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Presented in Session 196: Migration and Adult Health