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Cross-Border Ties and Self-Rated Health Status for 1.5 and 2nd Generation Latinos in Southern California


At the same time that health researchers have mostly ignored the potential for immigrant social networks to include cross-border ties, scholars of immigrant “transnationalism” have left health, as either cause or consequence of cross-border connections, largely unexamined. In this paper I take a step towards addressing this gap by first exploring the potential mechanisms linking cross-border ties to health outcomes for immigrants and their children in the 1.5 and 2nd generations. I then perform an analysis using the 2004 study of Immigration and Intergenerational Mobility in Metropolitan Los Angeles (IIMMLA), which includes data for 1273 young Latino adults from the 1.5 and 2nd immigrant generations. In ordered logistic regression models using a four-category measure of self-rated general health status, I find that those in the 1.5 generation who report simply having a close relative living in one’s country of origin are 76% more likely to have better health overall health status compared with those with no potential cross-border connection, all else equal. On the other hand, those reporting a period of parental cross-border separation during childhood are 40% less likely to report optimal health in a multivariate model; similar findings of a negative relationship between health and parental cross-border separation are observed for the 2nd generation. Also among the 2nd generation, those who indicate that their parents ever remitted money to their country of origin are 43% more likely to report better health status, even when considering a number of statistical controls. Given the findings of a significant relationship between several indicators of cross-border ties and self-rated general health status, albeit in varying directions, I discuss the implications for future research as relates to the social determinants of immigrant health outcomes. 

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