The Burden of Culture? Health Outcomes Among Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union in the United States
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Immigrants in the U.S. often experience better health than the native-born, and many explanations for this phenomenon center around the positive health behaviors that immigrants bring from their home cultures. Immigrants from the former Soviet Union may be an exception; because they come from societies where unhealthy lifestyles and high mortality are common, they are often expected to experience worse health than the native population. Using data from the Integrated Health Interview Series, I compare FSU immigrants with U.S.-born, non-Hispanic whites on several health measures. FSU immigrants are twice as likely as native whites to report fair or poor health, but they are less likely to smoke or drink, and are less likely to report a functional limitation. FSU immigrants’ advantage in functional limitation is largely explained by their very high levels of education and marriage, indicating that selectivity is important to understanding the health of this population.
KeywordsImmigration Healthy migrant effect Former Soviet Union Health behaviors
This research has received support from the grant, 5 T32 HD041019, Training Program in Population Studies, awarded to the Population Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Health and Child Development. I would like to thank Robert Hummer, Ana Paula Verona, and Cynthia Buckley for their helpful comments and suggestions.
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