, Volume 53, Issue 6, pp 1979–2004 | Cite as

Assimilation and Health: Evidence From Linked Birth Records of Second- and Third-Generation Hispanics

  • Osea Giuntella


This study explores the effects of assimilation on the health of Hispanics in the United States, using ethnic intermarriage as a metric of acculturation. I exploit a unique data set of linked confidential use birth records in California and Florida from 1970–2009. The confidential data allow me to link mothers giving birth in 1989–2009 to their own birth certificate records in 1970–1985 and to identify second-generation siblings. Thus, I can analyze the relationship between the parental exogamy of second-generation Hispanic women and the birth outcomes of their offspring controlling for grandmother fixed effects as well as indicators for second generation’s birth weight. Despite their higher socioeconomic status, third-generation children of second-generation intermarried Hispanic women are more likely to have poor health at birth, even after I account for second-generation health at birth and employ only within-family variations in the extent of assimilation. I find that a second-generation Hispanic woman married to a non-Hispanic man is 9 % more likely to have a child with low birth weight relative to a second-generation woman married to another Hispanic. These results largely reflect the higher incidence of risky behaviors (e.g., smoking during pregnancy) among intermarried Hispanic women.


Hispanic paradox Acculturation Intermarriage Birth outcomes 



I am grateful to Francisca Antman, Randall Ellis, Delia Furtado, Rania Gihleb, Kevin Lang, Claudia Olivetti, and Daniele Paserman for their comments and useful suggestions. I am also thankful to Yasmine Serrano (Florida Department of Health) and Julie Turner (California Department of Public Health), who were extremely helpful with the data collection process. I would like to thank all the participants at the AlpPop 2015 Conference, the 2015 annual meeting of the Population Association of America, as well as all seminar attendees at the University of Manchester and the University of Oxford. Any errors are my own. The project was made possible by generous funding from the Boston University Institute for Economic Development.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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