Journal Article

At the intersection of adverse life course pathways: the effects on health by migration status


Adverse life events are major causes of declining health and well-being, but the effects vary across subpopulations. We analyze how the intersection of migration status and sex relates to two main adverse life events—job loss and divorce—thereby affecting individual health and well-being trajectories. Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (1984–2017), we apply descriptive techniques and individual fixed-effects regressions to analyze how job loss and divorce influence the health of immigrants and nonimmigrants. Our results support the hypothesis that immigrants suffer more from adverse life events than nonimmigrants in both the short and the long run. Relative to nonimmigrants, immigrants have a health advantage at younger ages, which becomes a disadvantage at older ages, and this faster decline at older ages is particularly steep among immigrants who experience adverse life events. These results help explain the vanishing health advantage of immigrants by showing that they are exposed to a double disadvantage over the life course: immigrants are more likely than nonimmigrants to suffer from adverse life events, such as job loss, and these events typically have a larger impact on their health. Our findings are the first to provide evidence regarding the consequences of different adverse life events and how they relate to the intersection of migration status and sex. Moreover, our results highlight the importance of intersectional analyses in research on immigrant health.

Keywords: Germany
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.