Untangling the Health Impacts of Mexico – U.S. Migration

David L Ortmeyer, Michael A Quinn

Abstract


Research has found that immigrant health has a tendency to decline with time spent in the United States.  Using data from the Mexican Migration Project from 2007-2014, this paper is the first to test the impact of domestic and international migration on different types of health measures.  Results find cumulative U.S. migration experience has a negative impact both on self-reported and objective health measures.  By contrast, the number of trips to the United States and migrations made within Mexico impact individual’s self-assessment of their health but not objective health measures.  The analyses suggest that differences in self-reported versus objective health measures may help to explain mixed results in the literature.  Results suggest that individual’s health will suffer considerably more from U.S. migrations than from migration within Mexico which is consistent with the acculturation hypothesis.  Not surprisingly, high levels of BMI and smoking are significant predictors of negative self-reported and objective health.  There is also a troubling significant negative trend in health over time observed in the sample. Taken as a whole, these results suggest that even short trips to the United States can have a negative health effect on immigrants if they are repeated.


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