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Health Disparities among Older Immigrants in the United States

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionHeron, Melonie P., Robert F. Schoeni, and Leo Morales. 2003. "Health Disparities among Older Immigrants in the United States." PSC Research Report No. 03-548. December 2003.

In light of increased immigration to the U.S., our objective is to examine the unique patterns of health status among immigrants aged 55 and over across a wide array of racial and ethnic groups. We explore health disparities within the immigrant population and between immigrants and natives of the same racial/ethnic group. Logistic regression is used to analyze data from the 1992-1995 National Health Interview Survey. Immigrants are less likely than natives to report an activity limitation or to be obese, but more likely than natives to report themselves in poor or fair general health. There are significant differences among immigrants arriving from different countries and between immigrants and natives who are of the same race/ethnicity. For some groups and health measures, a large share of the differences are explained by disparities in socioeconomic status. Older immigrants are not a large enough share of the population, nor do they have distinct enough health status, to substantially alter the aggregate prevalence of health conditions in the total population. However, the diversity in health status within the immigrant population is enormous. These estimates can be used to target populations with especially high rates of obesity and limitations.

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