Migration-related health inequalities: showing the complex interactions between gender, social class and place of origin

Soc Sci Med. 2010 Nov;71(9):1610-9. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.07.043. Epub 2010 Sep 6.


In this paper, we briefly review theories and findings on migration and health from the health equity perspective, and then analyse migration-related health inequalities taking into account gender, social class and migration characteristics in the adult population aged 25-64 living in Catalonia, Spain. On the basis of the characterisation of migration types derived from the review, we distinguished between immigrants from other regions of Spain and those from other countries, and within each group, those from richer or poorer areas; foreign immigrants from low-income countries were also distinguished according to duration of residence. Further stratification by sex and social class was applied. Groups were compared in relation to self-assessed health in two cross-sectional population-based surveys, and in relation to indicators of socio-economic conditions (individual income, an index of material and financial assets, and an index of employment precariousness) in one survey. Social class and gender inequalities were evident in both health and socio-economic conditions, and within both the native and immigrant subgroups. Migration-related health inequalities affected both internal and international immigrants, but were mainly limited to those from poor areas, were generally consistent with their socio-economic deprivation, and apparently more pronounced in manual social classes and especially for women. Foreign immigrants from poor countries had the poorest socio-economic situation but relatively better health (especially men with shorter length of residence). Our findings on immigrants from Spain highlight the transitory nature of the 'healthy immigrant effect', and that action on inequality in socio-economic determinants affecting migrant groups should not be deferred.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors*
  • Social Class*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spain