The “Latino health paradox” in California: selective immigration or protective culture?

Enrico Marcelli, Harvard University

Employing 1994 and 2001 random household data from Los Angeles County, 1995-2003 March Current Population Survey, 2000 Summary File 3, and 2000 Mexican Council of Population data, we find little evidence of a Latino self-reported health paradox (relative good health given one’s socioeconomic status) among non-elderly adults in California. Mexico-born adults were less healthy than their U.S.-born co-ethnics, and similar proportions of authorized and unauthorized Mexican immigrants reported being in “very good” or “excellent” health. Still, when analyzing whether a foreign-born Mexican in Los Angeles County needed non-scheduled medical care, we find that a slightly smaller proportion of unauthorized (34%) compared to authorized (36%) Mexican immigrants did. Even if one interprets this as a health paradox, however, among our proxies for protective culture and healthy immigrant selectivity, one of the latter (having been born in an urban and consequently relatively healthy municipality) was statistically significant in our logistic regression models.

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Presented in Session 44: Migration and health (1)