Date of this Version
Demogr Res. 2018 ; 38: 1605–1618.
BACKGROUND—The US Latino population is rapidly aging and becoming increasingly diverse with respect to nativity and national origin. Increased longevity along with medical advancements in treatment have resulted in a higher number of older Latinos living with morbidity. Therefore, there is a need to understand variability in Latino health among older adults.
OBJECTIVES—This paper documents mid- and late-life health differences in morbidity by race/ethnicity, nativity, and country of origin among adults aged 50 and older.
METHODS—We use data from the 2000–2015 National Health Interview Survey to calculate age-and gender-specific proportions based on reports of five morbidity measures: hypertension, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes among non-Latino Whites and seven Latino subgroups.
RESULTS—The foreign-born from Mexico, Cuba, and Central/South America, regardless of gender, exhibit an immigrant advantage for heart disease and cancer in comparison to non-Latino Whites across all age categories. Conversely, island-born Puerto Ricans are generally characterized with higher levels of morbidity. Similarly, US-born Puerto Ricans and Mexicans exhibit morbidity patterns indicative of their minority status. Latinos, regardless of gender, were more likely to report diabetes than non-Latino Whites. Hypertension and stroke have significant variability in age patterns among US-and foreign-born Latinos.
CONCLUSION—Recognizing the importance of within-Latino heterogeneity in health is imperative if researchers are to implement social services and health policies aimed at ameliorating the risk of disease.
CONTRIBUTION—Considering intersectional ethnic, nativity, and country-of-origin characteristics among older Latinos is important to better understand the underlying causes of racial/ethnic disparities in morbidity across the life course.