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.
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