The healthy immigrant effect: Patterns and evidence from four countries | UNB

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The healthy immigrant effect: Patterns and evidence from four countries

Author: Steven Kennedy, Michael P. Kidd, James Ted McDonald, Nicholas Biddle
Year: 2014
Category: Health Publications

Read the journal article in the Journal of International Migration and Integration

The existence of a healthy immigrant effect—where immigrants are on average healthier than the native born—is a widely cited phenomenon across a multitude of literatures including epidemiology and the social sciences. There are many competing explanations. 

The goals of this paper are twofold: first, to provide further evidence on the presence of the healthy immigrant effect across source and destination country using a set of consistently defined measures of health; and second, to evaluate the role of selectivity as a potential explanation for the existence of the phenomenon. 

Utilizing data from four major immigrant recipient countries, USA, Canada, UK, and Australia allows us to compare the health of migrants from each with the respective native born who choose not to migrate. This represents a much more appropriate counterfactual than the native born of the immigrant recipient country and yields new insights into the importance of observable selection effects. 

The analysis finds strong support for the healthy immigrant effect across all four destination countries and that selectivity plays an important role in the observed better health of migrants vis a vis those who stay behind in their country of origin.