Investigating the Refugee Health Disadvantage among U.S. Immigrants

Holly E. Reed, CUNY Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR)
Guillermo Yrizar Barbosa, CUNY Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR)

Much health disparities research focuses on race and ethnicity, but immigrant experience has proved crucial in explaining the immigrant “health advantage” relative to native-born Americans. There is little research on how immigrants' visa status affects their health outcomes. Some immigrant subgroups, such as refugees, may actually have an initial health disadvantage. This paper explores the differences in health by visa category subgroups (refugee vs. non-refugee immigrants) using data from the 2003 New Immigrant Survey and investigates potential causes of health disparities between these groups. Preliminary findings suggest that refugees have a significant and strong health disadvantage across multiple health outcomes. This disadvantage remains in regression models controlling for many other potential factors affecting health. This indicates the need for better longitudinal research on refugee health, but also for health care providers and social workers to adopt different outreach and education models for refugee communities.

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 Presented in Session P8. Economy, Labor Force, Education, and Inequality/Gender, Race and Ethnicity