Acculturation and Self-Rated Health among Latino and Asian Immigrants to the United States
Kimbro, Rachel Tolbert
Gorman, Bridget K.
The ways in which immigrant health profiles change with shifts in acculturation is of increasing interest to scholars and policy makers in the United States, but little is known about the mechanisms that may link acculturation and self-rated health, particularly for Asians. Utilizing the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS) and its data on foreign-born Latinos (N = 1,199) and Asians( N = 1,323) (Pennelletal.2004), we investigate and compare the associations between acculturation and self-rated health for immigrants to the United States from six major ethnic subgroups (Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Mexican, Cuban, and Puerto Rican). Using comprehensive measures of acculturation, we demonstrate that across ethnic groups, and despite the widely varying contexts of the sending countries and receiving communities, native-language dominance is associated with worse self-rated health relative to bilingualism, and measures of lower acculturation--coethnic ties and remittances—are associated with better self-rated health; and moreover, these associations are only partially mediated by socioeconomic status, and not mediated by acculturative stress, discrimination, social support, or health behaviors. We speculate that immigrants who maintain a native language while also acquiring English, as has been shown for other immigrant outcomes, attain a bicultural fluency, which also enables good health. Surprisingly, we do not find strong associations between duration of time in the United States or age at migrationﾗ measures frequently used to proxy acculturationﾗwith self-rated health. Our findings illustrate the complexity of measuring acculturation and its influence on health for immigrants.
acculturation; migration; health; language; ethnicity