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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2017 Mar 21. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbx026. [Epub ahead of print]

U.S. Immigration Policy Regimes and Physical Disability Trajectories Among Mexico-U.S. Immigrants.

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Department of Sociology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.



Although immigration policies have shifted dramatically over the course of U.S. history, few have examined their role as a source of health heterogeneity among immigrants. We address this gap by evaluating whether exposure to U.S. Immigration Policy Regimes (IPRs) corresponds with later-life disability disparities among Mexico-U.S. migrant women and men, and assess the degree to which observed differences may also be associated with immigration policies and occupational composition.


We analyze 8 waves of data from the Hispanic Established Populations for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly (3,044 individuals and 14,474 observations from 1993/1994-2013). Using hierarchical linear models, we estimate trajectories of physical disability associated with gender, occupation, and IPR.


We find differences in disability trajectories by IPR. Associations are not different between men and women, and are not mediated by occupational composition. We also observe an additive effect for certain occupations among women, but not among men.


Findings demonstrate that exposure to different IPRs is associated with disparate disability trajectories among Mexico-U.S. migrants. Future research is needed to contextualize the role of IPRs amid other mechanisms of gendered racialization that powerfully contribute to cumulative health differences across the life course.


Functional health status; Gender; Longitudinal methods; Minority aging (race/ethnicity); Policy analysis


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