The effect of immigrant generation and duration on self-rated health among US adults 2003-2007

Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, Lisa M. Bates, Theresa L. Osypuk, Nancy McArdle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

94 Scopus citations


Global self-rated health (SRH) is increasingly a key indicator in the assessment of immigrant health. However, evidence of the impact on SRH of generational status, duration of residence in the US, and socioeconomic status (SES) among immigrants and their offspring is limited and inconsistent. We overcome limitations in existing research on this topic by using a uniquely large and diverse data source, the March Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS; 2003-2007) (n = 637,209). As a result, we are able to disaggregate results by race/ethnicity, account for country of origin, and consider the role of multiple dimensions of SES. We find that overall first-generation immigrants in the US have lower odds of poor/fair SRH compared to the third-generation. This association is particularly strong for blacks and Hispanics but not significant for Asians. Among first-generation Asians and Hispanics, longer duration of residence is positively associated with poor/fair SRH. Finally, socioeconomic gradients in SRH tend to be less pronounced among the first-generation (versus the third) and, within the first-generation, among recent arrivals (versus those with longer durations). Our results highlight the importance of explicitly accounting for multiple immigration-related variables and their interactions with race/ethnicity and SES. Otherwise, studies may misestimate SRH differences by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. The continued growth of the US immigrant population and the second-generation underscore the need to examine patterns in immigrant health systematically.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1161-1172
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010



  • Immigration
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Self-rated health
  • Socioeconomic gradients
  • USA

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