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Age at Migration and Self-Rated Health Trajectories After Age 50: Understanding the Older Immigrant Health Paradox

TitleAge at Migration and Self-Rated Health Trajectories After Age 50: Understanding the Older Immigrant Health Paradox
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsGubernskaya, Z
JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc SciJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Date PublishedMay 23
ISBN Number1758-5368 (Electronic)<br/>1079-5014 (Linking)
Accession Number24859225
AbstractOBJECTIVES: This research contributes to the "immigrant health paradox" debate by testing the hypothesis that older age at migration is associated with the increased risk of poor health in later life. METHOD: Using the 1992-2008 Health and Retirement Study, I construct linear random-intercept models to estimate self-rated health (SRH) trajectories after age 50 for the native and foreign born by age at migration. RESULTS: At age 50, both Hispanic and non-Hispanic foreign born report better SRH compared with their native-born counterparts, net of race, gender, and education. Non-Hispanic foreign born who migrated after age 35 and Hispanic foreign born who migrated after age 18, however, experience steeper decline in SRH after age 50, which results in a health disadvantage vis-a-vis the native born in old age. Education has a smaller protective effect on SRH for the foreign born, especially those who migrated as adults. DISCUSSION: Age at migration is an important factor for understanding health status of older immigrants. Steeper health decline in later life of the foreign born who migrated in advanced ages may be related to longer exposure to unfavorable conditions in home countries and limited opportunities for incorporation in the United States.