Disability risk disparity among the immigrant population in the United States, 2009-2018

University essay from Lunds universitet/Ekonomisk-historiska institutionen

Abstract: This thesis attempts to examine the relationship between immigrant generation status and disability risk in the US. The difference in disability risk, resulting from a series of chronic health conditions, is one of the major indicators of health disparities among immigrants which contribute to persistent ethnic/racial stratification of health. Existing literature has primarily focused on the first generation immigrant’s health advantage in terms of disability observed in cross-sectional surveys. However, researchers have paid scant attention to the disability risk of the descendants of the first generation immigrants to date. This thesis uses the data extracted from the Current Population Survey (CPS) to investigate the relationship between immigrant generation status and disability risk. Furthermore, by employing the longitudinal design of the BMS, this thesis examines the differences in short-term disability risk among the respondents. The results show that the first generation immigrants show a lower risk of having a disability. Meanwhile, the descendants of the first generation immigrants generally show a higher risk of disability. Moreover, regardless of generation status, socioeconomic status is negatively associated with short-term disability risk. The main findings indicate that existing theories concerning the immigrant’s health inequalities, e.g. the Healthy Immigrant Effect and the Fundamental Causes Theory may predict disability risk of immigrants in the US context as well. Although the implication is limited due to the short observation period, the associations found in this research should be studied further with an advanced longitudinal approach.

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