Mobility, Selectivity and the Migrant Mortality Advantage

The goal of this research is to improve our understanding of the migrant mortality advantage, i.e., the observation that migrants tend to exhibit lower mortality than the non-migrant population of their host country. In spite of the extensive literature on the topic, the mortality advantage remains questionable and poorly understood, in part because of the very nature of a migrant population: one that is highly mobile and difficult to capture correctly in data sources. Studies which document a migrant mortality advantage typically fail to adequately account for these features, producing mortality rates among migrants that can be artificially low. Consequently, the observation that migrants experience a mortality advantage upon arrival in the host country (often in spite of their lower socioeconomic status) which attenuates over time and can disappear or even reverse for the second generation remains difficult to interpret in epidemiological terms. This challenges the ability of policy makers to adequately address the health needs of migrant populations. This project has three main aims:

“To develop new and improved mortality estimates for first-generation migrant groups” “To examine the extent of selective return migration and its impact on the migrant mortality” “To develop new and improved mortality estimates for second-generation migrants in France” 
This will be accomplished using two data sources: (1) the Echantillon Démographique Permanent (EDP), a longitudinal, representative sample of the French resident population from 1968 to the present; and (2) a longitudinal sample of individuals born in 1944-53 who ever contributed during their professional career to the Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Vieillesse (CNAV), France’s main public pension fund. These new estimates will allow a re-evaluation of the advantage and its dynamics by age, time period, birth cohort, and duration of stay. We will also produce mortality estimates adjusted for differences in socio-economic status. This will be accomplished using a second sample from the CNAV data, consisting of individuals who were receiving a pension from the French national pension system at the end of 2008. It includes residence and mortality follow-up until the end of 2014. Residence and mortality follow-up takes place both in France and abroad. This unique feature will allow us to examine whether return migration is associated with higher mortality and assess the impact of this possible selective return migration on the size and scale of the migrant mortality advantage. This will be accomplished using the Echantillon Longitudinal de Mortalité (ELM), a sample of individuals aged 18+ taken from the 1999 French census with mortality follow-up until 2010. These data allow us to accurately identify second generation migrants. We will be able to measure the extent to which the migrant mortality advantage remains, decreases, or even reverses among the second generation. We will also produce mortality comparisons between the second generation and non-migrant population in France which adjust for differences in socio-economic status.
This project is a joint venture from the University of Pennsylvania and the French National Demographic Institute.