Health of newly arrived immigrants in Canada and the United States: Differential selection on health

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Abstract

Canada and the U.S. are two major immigrant-receiving countries characterized by different immigration policies and health care systems. The present study examines whether immigrant health selection, or the "healthy immigrant effect", differs by destination and what factors may account for differences in immigrant health selection. We use 12 years of U.S. National Health Interview Survey and Canadian Community Health Survey data to compare the risks of overweight/obesity and chronic health conditions among new immigrants in the two countries. Results suggest a more positive health selection of immigrants to Canada than the U.S. Specifically, newly arrived U.S. immigrants are more likely to be overweight or obese and have serious chronic health conditions than their Canadian counterparts. The difference in overweight/obesity was explained by differences in source regions and educational levels of immigrants across the two countries. But this is not the case for serious chronic conditions. These results suggest that immigration-related policies can potentially shape immigrant health selection.

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