Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Am Geriatr Soc. 2017 July ; 65(7): 1591–1596


HHS Public Access



The U.S. Mexican American population enjoys longer life expectancies relative to other racial/ethnic groups but is disproportionately affected by chronic conditions and functional limitations. Studying the impact of heterogeneity in age, time and other characteristics of migration among older Mexican Americans can inform our understanding of health disparities and health care needs in later-life. This research employed 20 years of data from the Hispanic Established Populations for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly to assess the proportion of life spent with functional limitations and one or more morbidity (by age of migration and gender) in the United States Mexican American population. Our results indicate early-life and late-life migrant women spend a larger number of years with performance-oriented mobility assessment (POMA) limitations than U.S.-born women. Conversely, mid-life migrant women were not statistically different from U.S.-born women in years spent disabled. Among men, mid-life migrants had longer life expectancies and spent more years disability-free than U.S.-born men. For morbidity, late-life migrant women spent a significantly smaller proportion of their elderly years with morbidity than U.S.-born women. However, late-life migrant men spent more years with morbidity than U.S.-born men. These findings illustrate that older Mexican Americans in the United States are heterogeneous in nativity and health outcomes. More years spent disabled/unhealthy may result in greater burden on family members and higher dependency on public resources. These findings have implications for the development of social and health policies to appropriately target the medical conditions and disabilities of older Mexican Americans entering late-life.