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Comparing immigration status and health patterns between Latinos and Asians: Evidence from the Survey of Income and Program Participation


Undocumented status is widely recognized as an important social determinant of health. While undocumented immigrants have lower levels of health care access, they do not have consistently poorer physical health than the US-born or other immigrant groups. Furthermore, heterogeneity by race/ethnicity has been largely ignored in this growing literature. This paper used the 2001, 2004, 2008 panels of the restricted Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), one of the only representative surveys equipped to adequately identify Asian undocumented immigrants, to compare health patterns between Asians and Latinos by immigration status. We examined three general measures of health/health access: self-rated health, disability, and current health insurance. Latino undocumented immigrants displayed some advantages in self-rated health and disability but had lower insurance coverage compared to US-born Latinos. In contrast, Asian undocumented immigrants did not differ from US-born Asians in any of the three outcomes. While undocumented status has been proposed as a fundamental cause of disease, we found no evidence that Latino and Asian undocumented immigrants consistently fare worse in health access or physical health outcomes than immigrants in other status categories. Different racial groups also appeared to have unique patterns between immigration status and health outcomes from one another.

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