MPIDR Working Paper

Immigrant-native health disparities: an intersectional perspective on the weathering hypothesis

MPIDR Working Paper WP-2023-005, 22 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (February 2023)
Open Access


The weathering hypothesis implies that there is an interaction between age and race or ethnicity that results in disadvantaged groups experiencing a more rapid decline in health than other groups. While the weathering hypothesis has been tested based on racial or ethnic identity, less is known about weathering by immigration status, and about weathering as viewed from an intersectional perspective. We contribute to the literature on weathering by addressing three research questions: Are immigrants, and especially immigrant women, ageing in poorer health? Does education protect immigrants from a faster health decline with age? How do income and marital status affect the health trajectories of immigrants and natives? We focus on Germany and estimate trajectories of declining health at the intersection of age, sex, and nativity, and evaluate the role of education. We estimate the ages at immigrant-native crossover across the health trajectories, and the corresponding health levels. We find that immigrants, and especially immigrant women, age in poorer health than natives. Furthermore, we show that high education explains the differential relationship between age, nativity, and health. We also find that employment and marital status only partly account for the observed gaps, as differences persist even after these factors are considered.

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.