The Economics of Health and Migration

Tim Halliday, Health, Publications

Abstract:

Migration and health are intimately connected. It is known that migrants tend to be healthier than non-migrants. However, the mechanisms for this association are elusive. On the one hand, the costs of migration are lower for healthier people, thereby making it easier for the healthy to migrate. Empirical evidence from a variety of contexts shows that the pre-migration health of migrants is better than it is for non-migrants, indicating that there is positive health-based selection in migration. On the other hand, locations can be viewed as a bundle of traits including but not limited to environmental conditions, healthcare quality, and violence. Each of these can impact health. Evidence shows that moving from locations with high mortality to low mortality can reduce mortality risks. Consistent with this, migration can increase mortality risk if it leads to greater exposure to risk factors for disease. The health benefits enjoyed by migrants can also be found in their children. However, these advantages erode with successive generations.

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