Differences in self-rated congitive disability between first and second generation immigrant children



Although there is some international ambiguity, studies in the US show more frequently a self-reported health advantage among immigrants. In study we just published, Emma KT Benn uses a method that aims to reduce selection bias when studying immigrant populations: children who were born outside the US and immigrated with their foreign-born parents were compared to children who were born in the US by foreign-born parents. This method essentially matches the nativity of the parents and ensures that both groups represent the offspring of a selective minority of the population of foreign born parents who immigrated to the USA.

Data taken from the 2009 American Community Survey was used, with a total of 77,324 children between 5 and 17 years of age. Of those, 23.4% were foreign-born children. Self-reported cognitive disability was reported in 1.7% of the sample. There was a higher prevalence of unfavourable outcome among US-born group. This difference remained even after accounting for important covariates, such as age-group, sex, race/ethnicity, household language, single-parent household and household income. Further analysis revealed that this advantage was only evident among economically disadvantaged children, which presents an interesting parad0x.

The author concludes that future research should examine the contribution of the accumulation of poverty over time to the relationship between nativity and children’s health.


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