Intergenerational Persistence of Health in the U.S.: Do Immigrants Get Healthier as They Assimilate?

33 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2016

See all articles by Mevlude Akbulut-Yuksel

Mevlude Akbulut-Yuksel

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Adriana D. Kugler

McCourt School of Public Policy ; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2016

Abstract

It is well known that a substantial part of income and education is passed on from parents to children, generating substantial persistence in socio-economic status across generations. In this paper, we examine whether another form of human capital, health, is also largely transmitted from generation to generation, contributing to limited socio-economic mobility. Using data from the NLSY, we first present new evidence on intergenerational transmission of health outcomes in the U.S., including weight, height, the body mass index (BMI), asthma and depression for both natives and immigrants. We show that both native and immigrant children inherit a prominent fraction of their health status from their parents, and that, on average, immigrants experience higher persistence than natives in weight and BMI. We also find that mothers' education decreases children's weight and BMI for natives, while single motherhood increases weight and BMI for both native and immigrant children. Finally, we find that the longer immigrants remain in the U.S., the less intergenerational persistence there is and the more immigrants look like native children. Unfortunately, the more generations immigrant families remain in the U.S., the more children of immigrants resemble natives' higher weights, higher BMI and increased propensity to suffer from asthma.

Keywords: health status, immigrants, intergenerational mobility

JEL Classification: I12, I14, J61, J62

Suggested Citation

Akbulut-Yuksel, Mevlude and Kugler, Adriana Debora, Intergenerational Persistence of Health in the U.S.: Do Immigrants Get Healthier as They Assimilate? (February 2016). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11100, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2733073

Mevlude Akbulut-Yuksel (Contact Author)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Adriana Debora Kugler

McCourt School of Public Policy ( email )

3700 O ST NW
311 Old North
Washington, DC 20057
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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