Immigration and Health among Korean Americans

Youngtae Cho, Seoul National University
Soonim Hur, Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs
Parker Frisbie, University of Texas at Austin

We examined the health and health behaviors of Korean Americans, focusing on the effect of acculturation to U.S. society and overall U.S. health-related structural environments. A bi-national comparison is carried out, based on Koreans residing in the U.S. and in Korea. Acculturation variables did not show any patterned effect on the health (self-rated health and body mass index) and health behaviors (smoking and binge drinking) of Korean Americans. Overall, this population exhibited more advantaged health and more favorable behaviors than Koreans. However, health inequality across socioeconomic status groups was generally much greater among Korean Americans as compared to Koreans residing in Korea. Findings showed that socioeconomic status was the primary factor influencing health and health behaviors among the two groups of Koreans, indicating the influence of U.S. health-related structural environments. Further, our results suggested that a multidimensional acculturation perspective should be employed in understanding the health/health behaviors of immigrant populations.

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Presented in Session 150: Comparative Perspectives on Migration and Health