Due in large part to increased migration from Africa and the Caribbean, black immigrants and their descendants are drastically changing the contours of health disparities among blacks in the United States. While prior studies have examined health variation among black immigrants by region of birth, few have explored the degree of variation in health behaviors, particularly smoking patterns, among first- and second- generation black immigrants by ancestral heritage. Using data from the 1995–2011 waves of the Tobacco Use Supplements of the Current Population Survey (TUS-CPS), we examine variation in current smoking status among first-, second-, and third/higher- generation black immigrants. Specifically, we investigate these differences among all black immigrants and then provide separate analyses for individuals with ancestry from the English-speaking Caribbean (West Indies), Haiti, Latin America, and Africa—the primary sending regions of black immigrants to the United States. We also explore differences in smoking behavior by gender. The results show that, relative to third/higher generation blacks, first-generation black immigrants are less likely to report being current smokers. Within the first-generation, immigrants who migrated after age 13 have a lower probability of smoking relative to those who migrated at or under age 13. Disparities in smoking prevalence among the first-generation by age at migration are largest among black immigrants from Latin America. The results also suggest that second-generation immigrants with two foreign-born parents are generally less likely to smoke than the third/higher generation. We find no statistically significant difference in smoking between second-generation immigrants with mixed nativity parents and the third or higher generation. Among individuals with West Indian, Haitian, Latin American, and African ancestry, the probability of being a current smoker increases with each successive generation. The intergenerational increase in smoking, however, is slower among individuals with African ancestry. Finally, with few exceptions, our results suggest that intergenerational gaps in smoking behavior are larger among women compared to men. As additional sources of data for this population become available, researchers should investigate which ancestral subgroups are driving the favorable smoking patterns for the African origin population.
The purpose of this study is to determine whether a labor market penalty exists for members of immigrant groups as a result of being phenotypically different from white Americans. Specifically, the authors examine the link between skin shade, perhaps the most noticeable phenotypical characteristic, and wages for immigrants from five regions: (1) Europe and Central Asia; (2) China, East Asia, South Asia, and the Pacific; (3) Latin America and the Caribbean; (4) Sub-Saharan Africa; and (5) the Middle East and North Africa. Using data from the New Immigrant Survey, a nationally representative multi-cohort longitudinal study of new legal immigrants to the United States, the authors find a skin shade penalty in wages for darker immigrants. However, disaggregating by region of origin shows that this finding is driven exclusively by the experience of immigrants from Latin America; the wage penalty for skin tone is substantial for self-reported nonblack Latin American immigrants. The effects of colorism are much less pronounced or nonexistent among other national-origin populations. Furthermore, although a skin shade penalty is not discernible among African immigrants, findings show that African immigrants experience a racial wage penalty.
A large literature has documented that Hispanic immigrants have a health advantage over their U.S.-born counterparts upon arrival in the United States. Few studies, however, have disentangled the effects of immigrants' arrival cohort from their tenure of U.S. residence, an omission that could produce imprecise estimates of the degree of health decline experienced by Hispanic immigrants as their U.S. tenure increases. Using data from the 1996-to-2014 waves of the March Current Population Survey, we show that the health (i.e., self-rated health) of Hispanic immigrants varies by both arrival cohort and U.S. tenure for immigrants hailing from most of the primary sending countries/regions of Hispanic immigrants. We also find evidence that acculturation plays an important role in determining the health trajectories of Hispanic immigrants. With respect to self-rated health, however, our findings demonstrate that omitting arrival-cohort measures from health assimilation models may result in overestimates of the degree of downward health assimilation experienced by Hispanic immigrants.
This paper evaluates whether immigrants’ initial health advantage over their U.S.-born counterparts results primarily from characteristics correlated with their birth countries (e.g., immigrant culture) or from selective migration (e.g., unobserved characteristics such as motivation and ambition) by comparing recent immigrants’ health to that of recent U.S.-born interstate migrants (‘‘U.S.-born movers”). Using data from the 1999–2013 waves of the March Current Population Survey, I find that, relative to U.S.-born adults (collectively), recent immigrants have a 6.1 percentage point lower probability of reporting their health as fair or poor. Changing the reference group to U.S.-born movers, however, reduces the recent immigrant health advantage by 28%. Similar reductions in the immigrant health advantage occurs in models estimated separately by either race/ethnicity or education level. Models that examine health differences between recent immigrants and U.S.-born movers who both moved for a new job—a primary motivation behind moving for both immigrants and the U.S.-born—show that such immigrants have only a 1.9 percentage point lower probability of reporting their health as fair or poor. Together, the findings suggest that changing the reference group from U.S.-born adults collectively to U.S.-born movers reduces the identified immigrant health advantage, indicating that selective migration plays a significant role in explaining the initial health advantage of immigrants in the United States.
Black immigrants in the United States migrate from a diverse set of countries, including countries in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Europe, and Africa. This study evaluates whether disparate conditions in black immigrants’ birth countries help explain variation in their postmigration health.
Using data on black immigrants from the 2001 to 2012 waves of the March Current Population Survey (CPS) along with country data from the 2009 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme, this study examines whether social, economic, and health conditions in black immigrants’ birth countries have an independent effect on their postmigration health.
Results show that health is more favorable among black immigrants who migrate from countries with a relatively high combined gross enrollment ratio for primary, secondary, and tertiary education; low levels of income inequality; and high life expectancies at birth. After controlling for country conditions, relative to non-African immigrants, African immigrants report the best health.
Future studies on the health of immigrants should incorporate characteristics of immigrants’ birth countries. This information could provide valuable insights into the roles of selective migration and birth-country conditions in explaining variation in immigrants’ postmigration health.
Research suggests that immigrants from the English-speaking Caribbean surpass the earnings of U.S.-born blacks approximately one decade after arriving in the United States. Using data from the 1980-2000 U.S. censuses and the 2005-2007 American Community Surveys on U.S.-born black and non-Hispanic white men as well as black immigrant men from all the major sending regions of the world, I evaluate whether selective migration and language heritage of immigrants’ birth countries account for the documented earnings crossover. I validate the earnings pattern of black immigrants documented in previous studies, but I also find that the earnings of most arrival cohorts of immigrants from the English-speaking Caribbean, after residing in the United States for more than 20 years, are projected to converge with or slightly overtake those of U.S.-born black internal migrants. The findings also show three arrival cohorts of black immigrants from English-speaking African countries are projected to surpass the earnings of U.S.-born black internal migrants. No arrival cohort of black immigrants is projected to surpass the earnings of U.S.-born non-Hispanic whites. Birth-region analysis shows that black immigrants from English-speaking countries experience more rapid earnings growth than immigrants from non-English-speaking countries. The arrival-cohort and birth-region variation in earnings documented in this study suggest that selective migration and language heritage of black immigrants’ birth countries are important determinants of their initial earnings and earnings trajectories in the United States.
Utilizing data on U.S.-born and Caribbean-born black women from the 1980-2000 U.S. Censuses and the 2000-2007 waves of the American Community Survey, I document the impact of cohort of arrival, tenure of U.S. residence, and country/region of birth on the earnings and earnings assimilation of black women born in the English-, French-, and Spanish-speaking Caribbean. I also test whether selective migration accounts for earnings differences between U.S.-born and Caribbean-born black women in the United States. I show that almost all arrival cohorts of Caribbean women earn less than U.S.-born black women when they first arrive in the United States. However, over time the earnings of early arrival cohorts from the English- and French-speaking Caribbean are projected to surpass the earnings of U.S.-born black women. Indeed, this crossover is most pronounced for women from the English-speaking Caribbean. In models that account for selective migration by comparing the earnings of Caribbean women to U.S.-born black women who have moved across states since birth, I show that more time is required for early arrival cohorts from the English- and French-speaking Caribbean to surpass the earnings of U.S.-born black internal migrants. Women from the Spanish-speaking Caribbean do not seem to experience earnings growth as their tenure of U.S. residence increases. In summary, the findings suggest that selective migration is an important determinant of earnings differences between U.S.-born black women and black women from the Caribbean.
Previous work suggests that regional variation in pre-migration exposure to racism and discrimination, measured by a region's racial composition, predicts differences in individual-level health among black immigrants to the United States. We exploit data on both region and country of birth for black immigrants in the United States and methodology that allows for the identification of arrival cohorts to test whether there are sending country differences in the health of black adults in the United States that support this proposition. While testing this hypothesis, we also document heterogeneity in health across arrival cohorts and by duration of U.S. residence among black immigrants. Using data on working-age immigrant and U.S.-born blacks taken from the 1996-2010 waves of the March Current Population Survey, we show that relative to U.S.-born black adults, black immigrants report significantly lower odds of fair/poor health. After controlling for relevant social and demographic characteristics, immigrants' cohort of arrival, and immigrants' duration in the United States, our models show only modest differences in health between African immigrants and black immigrants who migrate from the other major sending countries or regions. Results also show that African immigrants maintain their health advantage over U.S.-born black adults after more than 20 years in the United States. In contrast, black immigrants from the Caribbean who have been in the United States for more than 20 years appear to experience some downward health assimilation. In conclusion, after accounting for relevant factors, we find that there are only modest differences in black immigrant health across countries of origin. Black immigrants appear to be very highly selected in terms of good health, although there are some indications of negative health assimilation for black immigrants from the Caribbean.