Selection, Wear, and Tear

Selection, Wear, and Tear: The Health of Hispanics and Hispanic Immigrants in the United States
By: Ricardo Basurto-Davila
Source: RAND Corporation, PRGS Dissertations

Among the factors that complicate the study of Hispanic health are data artifacts and cultural differences that originate from different degrees of assimilation. This dissertation provides a better understanding of the issues surrounding the health of Hispanics in general, and of Hispanic immigrants in particular. The author examines differences in health status between non-Hispanic Whites, Mexican Americans, and Mexican immigrants, and proposes an index of biological risk. He finds indirect evidence supporting the “healthy migrant” hypothesis, which states that emigrants are positively selected in their health status from the population of their countries of origin. Two hypotheses explaining the decline in immigrant health are consistent with the author’s results: (1) the “life-course” hypothesis, which states that the deterioration of immigrant health status is a result of the cumulative negative effect of the adversities associated with the process of migration, and (2) the “regression to the mean” hypothesis, which maintains that immigrants self-select on health at the time of migration, but over time their health converges to the average health levels in their home countries.

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