Stress and Immigrant Health: The Relationship between Time in U.S. and Allostatic Load of Immigrants

Robert Kaestner, University of Illinois at Chicago

It is well known that most immigrants arrive in this country healthier than comparable U.S.-born persons, but that their health declines with time in U.S. The conventional explanation of this immigrant health trajectory is that immigrants are positively selected on health, which explains their health advantage on arrival, and that assimilation is unhealthy because over time immigrants adopt unhealthy behaviors that adversely affect their health. While there is considerable evidence of a positive selection effect, the evidence is less clear as to the extent and causes of the assimilation effect (Jasso et al. 2004). One potential explanation of the “unhealthy assimilation” effect is greater stress. In this study, I investigate the relationship between stress and immigrant health, and how time in the U.S. mediates this relationship. Specifically, I use a multivariate regression framework to obtain associations between allostatic load and nativity status, and how time in U.S. mediates this association.

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Presented in Session 85: Immigrant Health