Health selection among new immigrants

Am J Public Health. 2008 Nov;98(11):2058-64. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2006.100974. Epub 2008 Feb 28.


Objectives: We sought to quantify the extent of health selection (i.e., the degree to which potential immigrants migrate, or fail to migrate, on the basis of their health status) among contemporary US immigrant groups and evaluate the degree that selection explains variation in self-rated health among US legal permanent residents.

Methods: Data came from the New Immigrant Survey 2003 cohort. We estimated the extent of positive and negative health selection through a unique series of questions asking immigrants in the United States to evaluate their health and compare it to that of citizens in their country of origin.

Results: The extent of positive health selection differed significantly across immigrant groups and was related to compositional differences in the socioeconomic profiles of immigrant streams.

Conclusions: The salience of socioeconomic status and English-language ability in explaining health differentials across immigrant groups reinforces the importance of further research on the role of these factors in contributing to the health of immigrants above and beyond the need for additional attention to the health selection process.

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Adult
  • Africa / ethnology
  • Algorithms
  • Asia / ethnology
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Australia / ethnology
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / classification
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology*
  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data*
  • Europe / ethnology
  • Europe, Eastern / ethnology
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • New Zealand / ethnology
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • South America / ethnology
  • United States