Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 475–488

Health Status of Mexican-Origin Persons: Do Proxy Measures of Acculturation Advance our Understanding of Health Disparities?

  • Olivia Carter-Pokras
  • Ruth E. Zambrana
  • Gillermina Yankelvich
  • Maria Estrada
  • Carlos Castillo-Salgado
  • Alexander N. Ortega
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10903-008-9146-2

Cite this article as:
Carter-Pokras, O., Zambrana, R.E., Yankelvich, G. et al. J Immigrant Minority Health (2008) 10: 475. doi:10.1007/s10903-008-9146-2


Objectives This paper compares select health status indicators between the U.S. and Mexico, and within the Mexican-origin population using proxy measures of acculturation. Methods Statistical data were abstracted and a Medline literature review conducted of English-language epidemiologic articles on Mexican-origin groups published during 1976–2005. Results U.S.-born Mexican-Americans have higher morbidity and mortality compared to Mexico-born immigrants. Mexico has lower healthcare resources, life expectancy, and circulatory system and cancer mortality rates, but similar infant immunization rates compared to the U.S. Along the U.S.-Mexico border, the population on the U.S. side has better health status than the Mexican side. The longer in the U.S., the more likely Mexican-born immigrants engage in behaviors that are not health promoting. Conclusions Researchers should consider SEP, community norms, behavioral risk and protective factors when studying Mexican-origin groups. It is not spendingtime in the U.S. that worsens health outcomes but rather changes in health promoting behaviors.


Mexican AmericansHispanic AmericansEmigration and immigration

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olivia Carter-Pokras
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ruth E. Zambrana
    • 3
  • Gillermina Yankelvich
    • 4
  • Maria Estrada
    • 5
  • Carlos Castillo-Salgado
    • 6
  • Alexander N. Ortega
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsUniversity of Maryland College Park School of Public HealthCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.Silver SpringUSA
  3. 3.Department of Women’s StudiesUniversity of Maryland, College ParkCollege ParkUSA
  4. 4.Universidad Nacional Autonoma de MexicoMexico CityMexico
  5. 5.Department of Epidemiology and Preventive MedicineUniversity of Maryland School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  6. 6.Pan American Health OrganizationWashingtonUSA
  7. 7.School of Public HealthUniversity of California Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA