How Gender Shapes the Mexican American Immigrant Health Paradox

Bridget K. Gorman, Rice University
Jen'nan G. Read, University of California, Irvine

This paper uses data from the 1998-2006 waves of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to examine whether the well-established relationship between acculturation and health varies by gender. We construct a multi-dimensional measure of acculturation that draws on four pieces of information (nativity, duration of US residence, citizenship status, and language use), and examine its relationship to the total number, and type, of diagnosed medical conditions (e.g., hypertension, heart disease, diabetes). We also consider whether the mechanisms through which acculturation influences health (e.g., family structure, SES, access to and utilization of medical care, health behaviors, psychological well-being) varies by gender. Overall, we find that while the least acculturated men and women are significantly less likely to report a medical condition, this relationship is stronger for men. Initial models also show that while some explanatory mechanisms operate differently for men and women (e.g., education), most operate in a similar manner.

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Presented in Session 119: Migration and Gender