The Impact of Salmon Bias on the Hispanic Mortality Advantage: New Evidence from Social Security Data

  • Cassio M. Turra
  • Irma T. EloEmail author


A great deal of research has focused on factors that may contribute to the Hispanic mortality paradox in the United States. In this paper, we examine the role of the salmon bias hypothesis—the selective return of less-healthy Hispanics to their country of birth—on mortality at ages 65 and above. These analyses are based on data drawn from the Master Beneficiary Record and NUMIDENT data files of the Social Security Administration. These data provide the first direct evidence regarding the effect of salmon bias on the Hispanic mortality advantage. Although we confirm the existence of salmon bias, it is of too small a magnitude to be a primary explanation for the lower mortality of Hispanic than non-hispanic (NH)-White primary social security beneficiaries. Longitudinal surveys that follow individuals in and out of the United States are needed to further explore the role of migration in the health and mortality of foreign-born US residents and factors that contribute to the Hispanic mortality paradox.


Emigration Hispanic paradox Mortality Salmon-bias Social security 



This research was supported by Grant AG10168 from the National Institute on Aging to the University of Pennsylvania, Samuel H. Preston, Principal Investigator. We are grateful to Bert Kestenbaum and B. Renee Ferguson of the Social Security Administration for providing us the data used in this study and for their valuable input. We also thank Sam Preston, Bob Hummer, Noreen Goldman, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America, Philadelphia, PA, April 2005.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Demography and CedeplarUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  2. 2.Graduate Group in Demography, Population Studies CenterUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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