Health Status and Behavioral Risk Factors in Older Adult Mexicans and Mexican Immigrants to the United States

Published in: Journal of Aging and Health, v. 25, no. 1, Feb. 2013, p. 136-158

Posted on RAND.org on February 01, 2013

by Emma Aguila, Jose J. Escarce, Mei Leng, Leo S. Morales

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OBJECTIVES: Investigate the "salmon-bias" hypothesis, which posits that Mexicans in the U.S. return to Mexico due to poor health, as an explanation for the Hispanic health paradox in which Hispanics in the United States are healthier than might be expected from their socioeconomic status. METHOD: Sample includes Mexicans age 50 years or above living in the United States and Mexico from the 2003 Mexican Health and Aging Study and the 2004 Health and Retirement Study. Logistic regressions examine whether nonmigrants or return migrants have different odds than immigrants of reporting a health outcome. RESULTS: The salmon-bias hypothesis holds for select health outcomes. However, nonmigrants and return migrants have better health outcomes than immigrants on a variety of indicators. DISCUSSION: Overall, the results of this study do not support the salmon-bias hypothesis; other explanations for the paradox could be explored.

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