Disability Among Older Immigrants in the United States: Exploring Differences by Region of Origin and Gender

Shane D. Burns, Elizabeth H. Baker, Connor M. Sheehan, Kyriakos S. Markides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rapid aging in American society will be disproportionately concentrated among the foreign-born. Immigrants in the United States (U.S.) are a heterogeneous population, yet little is known regarding their differences in disability later in life by region of origin. We use data from the National Health Interview Survey on respondents ages 60+ (n = 313,072) and employ gender-specific logistic models to predict reports of any activity of daily living (ADL) disability. After accounting for socioeconomic factors, compared to their U.S.-born non-Hispanic (NH) White counterparts, the odds of reporting ADL disability were higher among U.S.-born respondents that are Hispanic, NH Black, and NH Multiracial as well as respondents with Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Russian/former Soviet, Middle Eastern, East Asian, and South Asian origins. Also, Dominican, African, and Southeast Asian women—and European men—reported high odds of ADL disability. Our results highlight heterogeneity in the disability profiles of foreign-born older adults in the U.S.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-351
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Asia
  • Latin America
  • activities of daily living
  • refugees
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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