Research Group

Migration and Health Inequalities

At a Glance Projects Publications Team

Detailed Description


Despite having better health upon arrival, immigrants experience a more rapid health deterioration than non-immigrants. The immigrants’ health advantage is particularly strong upon their arrival due to selection processes, but tends to diminish as they age in the receiving societies. Nevertheless, the reasons why immigrants age in worse health remain poorly understood. To gain deeper insights on the factors contributing to the unhealthy aging of immigrants, it is essential to adopt a life-course approach. The life-course approach improves our understanding of the multiple exposures to stressors that immigrants face throughout their lives, and the long-term effects on their health.

Most research designs on immigrant health still tend to focus on the effects of single exposures on health outcomes, despite individual and population health risks arise from multiple sources across the life-course. The Research Group on Migration and Health Inequalities, provides new knowledge on how multiple structural social factors and their interactions influence inequalities between immigrants and non-immigrants during the life-course in the European context. Research conducted in the group has the following three overarching objectives:  

  1. Quantify the gaps in healthy ageing trajectories between immigrants and non-immigrants by age, gender, and socioeconomic status, and their interactions. We describe and explain the dynamic of immigrants’ health over the life-course, while accounting for potential bias due to a disproportional return migration at older ages.
  2.  Identify the critical events and circumstances in immigrant lives that put them on a different healthy ageing trajectory from non-immigrants. Critical family events, such as marriage, family formation, retirement, or adverse events, like job loss, divorce, death of a family member may pave the way for a differential healthy ageing by migration background; we study how these circumstances, in combination with economic disadvantage, shape health inequalities between immigrants and non-immigrants.
  3. Examine how family structure contributes to shaping health inequalities by migration background. Family ties, specifically relationships between parents and children, spouses, and siblings, play crucial roles in influencing individuals' health. We explore whether these dimensions contribute to the understanding of health inequalities between immigrants and non-immigrants.

Addressing these key objectives is crucial to formulate effective policies to prevent immigrants’ health excessive deterioration, and to make tangible improvements in the process of their inclusion in the receiving societies.

The Research Group on Migration and Health Inequalities, funded by a starting grant from the European Research Council, addresses these objectives in a comparative and multidisciplinary framework. It combines longitudinal survey data with large sample sizes from several European countries, and registry data from the Nordic countries, and applies cutting-edge statistical methods to explain the underlying mechanisms of the health inequalities between immigrants and non-immigrants.

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.