(Un)Healthy Immigrant Citizens: Naturalization and Functional Limitations over the Incorporation Lifecourse

Zoya Gubernskaya, University of California, Irvine
Frank D. Bean, University of California, Irvine

This research seeks to shed light on the relationship between a key aspect of immigrant incorporation, naturalization, and a key health measure, functional limitations, among the foreign-born over age 50 in the U.S. Using data from 2008-09 American Community Survey we show that because of multiple dynamics underlying the association between naturalization and health, it can be both positive and negative. Specifically, for those foreign-born who immigrated at younger ages, naturalization is associated with lower probability of having functional limitations, presumably because naturalization is both cause and effect of acquiring more resources over the life course. For those who came to the U.S after age 50, however, a negative association between naturalization and health (e.g. higher probability of having functional limitations among naturalized citizens) suggests that declining health may encourage naturalization in order to obtain access to public welfare and healthcare programs, especially among those of lower socioeconomic status.

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Presented in Session 31: Migration, Residential Mobility, and Population Health