Journal Article

Migrant mortality advantage versus origin and the selection hypothesis

When international migrants have lower mortality than nonmigrants, this is referred to as a “migrant mortality advantage.” This phenomenon has been pervasively observed, but often only conceptualized and estimated relative to nonmigrants in the destination country. In response, here we reconceptualize and reestimate the advantage relative to nonmigrants in their country of origin. Specifically, we calculate and compare all-cause adult mortality and tertiary-level educational attainment of the 35 largest migrant groups in England and Wales to populations in their country of origin. Nearly every migrant group experiences an age-adjusted (20+) mortality advantage versus origin and versus destination, with variation in the size of the former strongly positively correlated with the development level of the country of origin. We also find that the advantage versus origin is much larger at peak migration ages. For education, migrant groups are systematically more highly educated over age.  Our findings provide valuable insight into the patterns and causes of the migrant mortality advantage. Most notably, they are consistent with selection as a main explanation.

Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.