From the West Indies to Africa: A universal generational decline in health among blacks in the United States

Tod G. Hamilton, Tiffany L. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Research shows that foreign-born blacks have better health profiles than their U.S.-born counterparts. Less is known, however, regarding whether black immigrants’ favorable health outcomes persist across generations or whether these patterns differ across the diverse sending regions for black immigrants. In this study, we use data from the 1996–2014 waves of the March Current Population Survey (CPS) to investigate generational differences in self-rated health among blacks with West Indian, Haitian, Latin American, and African ancestry. We show that first-generation black immigrants have a lower probability of reporting fair/poor health than third/higher generation blacks. The health advantage of the first generation over the third/higher generation is slightly more prounced among the foreign-born who migrated to the United States after age 13. Second-generation immigrants with two foreign-born parents are generally less likely to report their health as fair/poor than the third/higher generation. However, we find no evidence that self-reported fair/poor health varies between second-generation immigrants with mixed nativity parents (only one foreign-born parent) and the third/higher generation. These general patterns hold across each of the ancestral subgroups in the study sample. In summary, our findings highlight a remarkable convergence in health across immigrant generations among blacks in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-174
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science Research
StatePublished - Jul 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Black immigrants
  • Blacks
  • Generations
  • Health
  • Race
  • USA


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