Does Cultural Background or Migrant Selectivity Explain the Health of Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union in the United States?

Erin T. Hofmann, University of Texas at Austin

Many immigrant groups in the U.S. experience low levels of morbidity and mortality. Explanations for immigrant health advantage include the health-promoting cultures that migrants bring with them, and positive selection of migrants on health characteristics. I test which of these best explains the health of immigrants from the former Soviet Union (FSU), a region where mortality rates are high and cultural practices have been linked to poor diet, binge drinking, and smoking. I compare immigrants from the FSU with U.S.-born, non-Hispanic whites on two health measures. FSU immigrants fare worse in terms of self-rated health, but they report better health behaviors and are less likely to report a functional limitation. The cultural practices common in the FSU appear to have little influence on the health of FSU immigrants in the U.S., indicating that selectivity may better explain the health of this population.

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Presented in Poster Session 7