Send to

Choose Destination
Econ Hum Biol. 2016 Dec;23:136-148. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2016.08.004. Epub 2016 Sep 6.

Intergenerational persistence of health: Do immigrants get healthier as they remain in the U.S. for more generations?

Author information

Dalhousie University and IZA, Canada. Electronic address:
Georgetown University, NBER, CEPR and IZA, United States. Electronic address:


It is well known that a substantial part of income and education is passed on from parents to children, generating substantial persistence in socioeconomic status across generations. In this paper, we examine whether another form of human capital, health, is also largely transmitted from generation to generation. Using data from the NLSY, we first present new evidence on intergenerational transmission of health outcomes in the U.S., including weight, height, the body mass index (BMI), asthma and depression for both natives and immigrants. We show that between 50% and 70% of the mothers' health status persists in both native and immigrant children, and that, on average, immigrants experience higher persistence than natives in BMI. We also find that the longer immigrants remain in the U.S., the less intergenerational persistence there is and the more immigrants look like native children. Unfortunately, the more generations immigrant families remain in the U.S., the more children of immigrants resemble natives' higher BMI.


Health status; Immigrants; Intergenerational mobility

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center