Chapter 6: Immigrant Health in the Period After Arrival in Australia
Steven Kennedy and James Ted McDonald INTRODUCTION It is well accepted that most immigrants are healthier than their native-born compatriots with similar characteristics, despite that many immigrants come from poorer countries than the country to which they are migrating (see for example, McDonald and Kennedy 2004, Perez 2002, Jasso et al. 2004). This is true of immigrants in Australia as well, where the ‘healthy immigrant’ effect is well known and has been documented in a number of studies including those by Biddle et al. (2004), Mathers (2003), Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2002), Strong et al. (1998) and Donovan et al. (1992). However, it is also becoming increasingly well known that after arrival in their new country of residence, immigrants experience a quicker deterioration in their health than native-born residents. Biddle et al. (2004) show that for most immigrants to Australia after about 20 years the health gap – the degree to which they are healthier than the native born – has mostly dissipated, although there is considerable variation by country of birth. For example, immigrants from Asia and other non-English speaking countries tend to exhibit a larger health gap and slower decline in health with years in Australia than other immigrants. The processes that might be driving the immigrant native-born health gap and subsequent deterioration in immigrant health can be considered in four groups. First, there are those explanations that relate to immigrant selection effects. Selection effects can be associated with observable factors that make immigrants more likely than the...
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