Duration or disadvantage? Explaining Nativity Differentials in Health Profiles

J. L. Angel, Cynthia Buckley, A. Sakamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives. This study examined nativity as a risk factor for poor physical and emotional health for an ethnically diverse population making the transition into retirement. The authors addressed whether the health disadvantage observed for immigrants lessens with increased time spent in the country (supporting theories of assimilation) or increases with duration of residence (supporting theories of cumulative disadvantage). Methods. The sample was drawn from Waves 1 and 2 of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), an in-depth economic, social, and health database of persons in midlife and beyond. The analyses were restricted to 9,912 native-born and 1,031 foreign-born individuals. Results. The data revealed that after socioeconomic factors were controlled, foreign-born individuals were at higher risk of poor emotional health than their native-born counterparts. Although aging immigrants displayed worse health than the native-born population, this disadvantage was mediated by duration of residence (young age at migration) and socioeconomic incorporation. Discussion. These findings extend our understanding of nativity and duration as risk factors for poor physical and emotional health. Immigrants may overcome the nativity disadvantages found for emotional distress with increased duration of residence, but the pattern becomes more complicated with the inclusion of race and Hispanic ethnicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S275-S284
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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