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Can J Public Health. 2004 May-Jun;95(3):I14-21.

Health, life expectancy, and mortality patterns among immigrant populations in the United States.

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Surveillance Research Program, National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, 6116 Executive Blvd, Suite 504, MSC 8316, Bethesda, MD 20892-8316, USA.



The US immigrant population has grown considerably in the last three decades, from 9.6 million in 1970 to 32.5 million in 2002. However, this unprecedented population rise has not been accompanied by increased immigrant health monitoring. In this study, we examined the extent to which US- and foreign-born blacks, whites, Asians, and Hispanics differ in their health, life expectancy, and mortality patterns across the life course.


We used National Vital Statistics System (1986-2000) and National Health Interview Survey (1992-1995) data to examine nativity differentials in health outcomes. Logistic regression and age-adjusted death rates were used to examine differentials.


Male and female immigrants had, respectively, 3.4 and 2.5 years longer life expectancy than the US-born. Compared to their US-born counterparts, black immigrant men and women had, respectively, 9.4 and 7.8 years longer life expectancy, but Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino immigrants had lower life expectancy. Most immigrant groups had lower risks of infant mortality and low birthweight than the US-born. Consistent with the acculturation hypothesis, immigrants' risks of disability and chronic disease morbidity increased with increasing length of residence. Cancer and other chronic disease mortality patterns for immigrants and natives varied considerably, with Asian Immigrants experiencing substantially higher stomach, liver and cervical cancer mortality than the US-born. Immigrants, however, had significantly lower mortality from lung, colorectal, breast, prostate and esophageal cancer, cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis, diabetes, respiratory diseases, HIV/AIDS, and suicide.


Migration selectivity, social support, socio-economic, and behavioural characteristics may account for health differentials between immigrants and the US-born.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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