Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Demogr Res. 2016 ; 35(51): 1523–1536


HHS Public Access



BACKGROUND—Migration selectivity is thought to shape the health profiles of Mexican immigrants.

OBJECTIVE—This study examines how the experience of Mexican migration to the United States affects the health process and the quality of life in old age by age at migration, specific to sex.

METHODS—We use 20 years of data from the Hispanic Established Populations for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly to estimate the proportion of life spent disability-free prior to death across eight subgroups by sex, nativity, and age at migration among Mexican-origin elderly in the United States.

RESULTS—Female migrants are at a significant disadvantage in terms of IADL disability-free life expectancy relative to US-born women, particularly late-life migrants. Conversely, mid- and late-life male migrants exhibit an advantage in ADL disability-free life expectancy compared to their US-born counterparts.

CONCLUSIONS—Foreign-born Mexican elders are not a homogeneous group. This issue merits special attention in the development of community-based long-term care programs in order to appropriately target the specific needs of different subgroups of older Mexican individuals entering their last decades of life.

CONTRIBUTION—This study contributes to immigrant health literature by providing a more comprehensive documentation of nativity differentials, by distinguishing subgroups of Mexican elderly by sex, nativity, and age at migration.