, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 205-212

Implications of Black Immigrant Health for U.S. Racial Disparities in Health

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This paper contributes to a growing understanding of U.S. black-white health disparities by using national-level data to disaggregate the health status of black Americans into the following subgroups: U.S.-born blacks, black immigrants from Africa, black immigrants from the West Indies, and black immigrants from Europe. Using new data on the 2000 and 2001 National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS), the authors compare the status of U.S.- and foreign-born blacks to that of U.S.-born whites on three measures of health. The analysis finds that U.S.-born and European-born blacks have worse self-rated health, higher odds of activity limitation, and higher odds of limitation due to hypertension compared to U.S.-born whites. In contrast, African-born blacks have better health than U.S.-born whites on all three measures, while West Indian-born blacks have poorer self-rated health and higher odds of limitation due to hypertension but lower odds of activity limitation. These findings suggest that grouping together foreign-born blacks misses important variations within this population. Rather than being uniform, the black immigrant health advantage varies by region of birth and by health status measure. The authors conclude by exploring the implications of these findings for researchers, health professionals, and public policy.