Health Selectivity and SES Gradients in Mexico–U.S. Migration at the Ecological Level

Fernando Riosmena, University of Colorado at Boulder
Jeffrey A. Dennis, University of Colorado at Boulder

The Hispanic Health Paradox potentially implies that migrants are self-selected in terms of health. At the same time, Mexican migrants tend to have weaker SES gradients in health. A potential explanation consistent with these stylized facts implies higher selection from those with lower SES. Alternatively, given that the distribution of both health and SES vary considerably across Mexico, migrant selectivity could also be a result of selection at the ecological level. As studies directly comparing the health status of migrants and non-migrants have only estimated average effects and not distinguished this variation, we use data from the Mexican Family Life Survey to analyze the association between Mexico-U.S. migration and a range of health measures while considering the role of ecological conditions in origins. We also explore whether urban-rural and regional variation in migration, health and educational attainment help explain the weaker SES-health gradient of foreign-born Mexicans in the U.S.

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Presented in Session 11: Health Disparities among Immigrants