Immigration and Health in the Older Mexican-Origin Population: Evidence from the Hispanic Established Populations for the Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly and Mexican Health and Aging Study

Ronald Angel, University of Texas at Austin
Jacqueline L. Angel, University of Texas at Austin
Terrence Hill, University of Texas at Austin

In this study, we focus on reports of various dimensions of health among Mexican-origin individuals 65 and older in the United States and Mexico. We employ data from the Hispanic Established Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly and Mexican Health and Aging Study to assess group health differences in these two domains and assess the relative impact of culture, immigration status, nativity, and structural factors on different patterns of physical and psychological health. The results reveal that both immigrant and native born Mexican Americans report more chronic conditions than elderly Mexicans residing in Mexico, but they report fewer symptoms of psychological distress. Longer residence in the U.S. is associated with higher BMI scores. The discussion addresses the possibility that access to care influences reports of diagnosed conditions and touches upon issues of comparability in cross-cultural research and the difficulty in clearly distinguishing cultural and systems-level factors in the measurement of health.

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Presented in Session 8: Race, Ethnicity, and Health