Race, Ethnicity, and Self-Rated Health Among Immigrants in the United States

Sirry M. Alang, Ellen M. McCreedy, Donna D McAlpine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Previous work has not fully explored the role of race in the health of immigrants. We investigate race and ethnic differences in self-rated health (SRH) among immigrants, assess the degree to which socio-economic characteristics explain race and ethnic differences, and examine whether time in the USA affects racial and ethnic patterning of SRH among immigrants.

METHODS: Data came from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (N = 16, 288). Using logistic regression, we examine race and ethnic differences in SRH controlling for socio-economic differences and length of time in the country.

RESULTS: Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black immigrants were the most socio-economically disadvantaged. Asian immigrants were socio-economically similar to non-Hispanic White immigrants. Contrary to U.S. racial patterning, Black immigrants had lower odds of poor SRH than did non-Hispanic White immigrants when socio-demographic factors were controlled. When length of stay in the USA was included in the model, there were no racial or ethnic differences in SRH. However, living in the USA for 15 years and longer was associated with increased odds of poor SRH for all immigrants.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings have implications for research on racial and ethnic disparities in health. Black-White disparities that have received much policy attention do not play out when we examine self-assessed health among immigrants. The reasons why non-Hispanic Black immigrants have similar self-rated health than non-Hispanic White immigrants even though they face greater socio-economic disadvantage warrant further attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-572
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Health disparities
  • Immigrant health
  • Race and ethnic disparities
  • Self-rated health

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