Healthier before they migrate, less healthy when they return? The health of returned migrants in Mexico

S. Heidi Ullmann, Noreen Goldman, Douglas S. Massey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


Over the course of the 20th century, Mexico-U.S. migration has emerged as an important facet of both countries, with far reaching economic and social impacts. The health of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. has been well studied, but relatively less is known about the health of returned migrants to Mexico. The objectives of this paper are twofold. Relying on health data pertaining to two stages of the life course, early life health (pre-migration) and adult health (post-migration) from the Mexican Migration Project gathered between 2007 and 2009, we aim to assess disparities in adult health status between male returned migrants and male non-migrants in Mexico, accounting for their potentially different early life health profiles. While we find evidence that returned migrants had more favorable early life health, the results for adult health are more complex. Returned migrants have a higher prevalence of heart disease, emotional/psychiatric disorders, obesity, and smoking than non-migrants but no differences are found in self-rated health, diabetes, or hypertension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-428
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


  • Emotional/psychiatric disorders
  • Immigrants
  • Mexico
  • Migrant health selection
  • Obesity
  • Returned (or return) migrants


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