All-cause and cause-specific mortality of immigrants and native born in the United States

Am J Public Health. 2001 Mar;91(3):392-9. doi: 10.2105/ajph.91.3.392.


Objectives: This study examined whether US-born people and immigrants 25 years or older differ in their risks of all-cause and cause-specific mortality and whether these differentials, if they exist, vary according to age, sex, and race/ethnicity.

Methods: Using data from the National Longitudinal Mortality Study (1979-1989), we derived mortality risks of immigrants relative to those of US-born people by using a Cox regression model after adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, marital status, urban/rural residence, education, occupation, and family income.

Results: Immigrant men and women had, respectively, an 18% and 13% lower risk of overall mortality than their US-born counterparts. Reduced mortality risks were especially pronounced for younger and for Black and Hispanic immigrants. Immigrants showed significantly lower risks of mortality from cardiovascular diseases, lung and prostate cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, cirrhosis, pneumonia and influenza, unintentional injuries, and suicide but higher risks of mortality from stomach and brain cancer and infectious diseases.

Conclusions: Mortality patterns for immigrants and for US-born people vary considerably, with immigrants experiencing lower mortality from several major causes of death. Future research needs to examine the role of sociocultural and behavioral factors in explaining the mortality advantage of immigrants.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cause of Death*
  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology