Journal Article

Age at Migration and Self-Rated Health Trajectories After Age 50: Understanding the Older Immigrant Health Paradox

Zoya Gubernskaya

in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B

Volume 70, issue 2, pages 279-290
Published in print March 2015 | ISSN: 1079-5014
Published online May 2014 | e-ISSN: 1758-5368 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbu049
Age at Migration and Self-Rated Health Trajectories After Age 50: Understanding the Older Immigrant Health Paradox

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  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Gerontology and Ageing

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Objectives.

This research contributes to the “immigrant health paradox” debate by testing the hypothesis that older age at migration is associated with the increased risk of poor health in later life.

Method.

Using the 1992–2008 Health and Retirement Study, I construct linear random-intercept models to estimate self-rated health (SRH) trajectories after age 50 for the native and foreign born by age at migration.

Results.

At age 50, both Hispanic and non-Hispanic foreign born report better SRH compared with their native-born counterparts, net of race, gender, and education. Non-Hispanic foreign born who migrated after age 35 and Hispanic foreign born who migrated after age 18, however, experience steeper decline in SRH after age 50, which results in a health disadvantage vis-à-vis the native born in old age. Education has a smaller protective effect on SRH for the foreign born, especially those who migrated as adults.

Discussion.

Age at migration is an important factor for understanding health status of older immigrants. Steeper health decline in later life of the foreign born who migrated in advanced ages may be related to longer exposure to unfavorable conditions in home countries and limited opportunities for incorporation in the United States.

Keywords: Aging; Demography; Education; Health disparities; Health trajectories; HRS; Immigrant health; Older immigrants; Self-rated health.

Journal Article.  9208 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Geriatric Medicine ; Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Gerontology and Ageing

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