Selection, Wear, and Tear

The Health of Hispanics and Hispanic Immigrants in the United States

by Ricardo Basurto-Davila

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Among the factors that complicate the study of Hispanic health are data artifacts and cultural differences that originate from different degrees of assimilation. This dissertation provides a better understanding of the issues surrounding the health of Hispanics in general, and of Hispanic immigrants in particular. The author examines differences in health status between non-Hispanic Whites, Mexican Americans, and Mexican immigrants, and proposes an index of biological risk. He finds indirect evidence supporting the “healthy migrant” hypothesis, which states that emigrants are positively selected in their health status from the population of their countries of origin. Two hypotheses explaining the decline in immigrant health are consistent with the author's results: (1) the “life-course” hypothesis, which states that the deterioration of immigrant health status is a result of the cumulative negative effect of the adversities associated with the process of migration, and (2) the “regression to the mean” hypothesis, which maintains that immigrants self-select on health at the time of migration, but over time their health converges to the average health levels in their home countries.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction and Research Questions

  • Chapter Two

    Hispanic Health in the United States: A Review

  • Chapter Three

    Health Differences Between USBorn Mexicans, Mexican Immigrants and NonHispanic Whites: An Analysis of the Hispanic Paradox Using Propensity-Score Methods

  • Chapter Four

    Changes in Immigrant Health with Length of Residence in the United States: A Semiparametric Analysis

  • Chapter Five


Research conducted by

This document was submitted as a dissertation in May 2009 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Jose Escarce (Chair), Emma Aguila, and Krishna Kumar.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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