Race and Social Problems

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 259–271 | Cite as

Does the Refugee Experience Overshadow the Effect of SES? An Examination of Self-Reported Health Among Older Vietnamese Refugees

  • Berna M. TorrEmail author
  • Eileen T. Walsh


Is the consistently poorer health of Vietnamese refugees relative to whites due largely to differences in socioeconomic status, demographic characteristics, and health risk behaviors or the residual impact of the trauma of war and resettlement? Using data from a population-based household survey we use multinomial logistic regression to assess the self-rated health and activity limitations of Vietnamese refugees aged 55 and older compared to whites, adjusting for demographics, socioeconomic status, and lifestyle characteristics. Vietnamese refugees report poorer health and are more likely to report activity limitations than whites. While substantial differences in characteristics exist between the two groups, they explain little of the health differentials. Demographic and socioeconomic factors do not explain the health differential between older Vietnamese refugees and whites, although their lifestyle exerts a protective effect. The trauma of war and the stressful context of immigration likely contribute to the poorer health of Vietnamese refugees.


Vietnamese-American Refugee Ethnic enclave Health Immigrant Health disparities 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyCalifornia State University FullertonFullertonUSA

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