Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 156–164 | Cite as

Substance Use, Age at Migration, and Length of Residence Among Adult Immigrants in the United States

  • Kelin Li
  • Ming Wen
Original Paper


In this study we scrutinize prevalence of current smoking and binge drinking among adult US immigrants, and examine whether age at migration predicts these two behaviors and moderates the effect of length of residence. Immigrant groups include those from Latin America/Caribbean, East and South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe/Central Asia, and Middle East/North Africa. Multivariate logistic regressions are estimated using cross-sectional data from the New Immigrant Survey (N = 7,397). Results show that patterns of smoking and binge drinking vary by gender and by region of origins. In addition, arriving at age 0–9 are directly associated with higher odds of binge drinking among adult women. Among adult men, age at migration moderates the association between length of residence and substance use. Specifically, length of residence has more detrimental effects for adolescent immigrants (arriving at age 10–18) on smoking, while its detrimental effects are more pronounced for childhood immigrants (arriving at age 0–9) on binge drinking. We interpret our findings within the critical period model in epidemiological research, concluding that adolescence and childhood are critical life stages that are associated with differential effects of length of residence when looking at smoking and binge drinking among immigrant men.


Smoking Binge drinking Immigrants Age at migration Acculturation 



This research was presented at the annual meeting of Population Association of America in 2013 in New Orleans, LA. The authors thank anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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