Population Health

At a Glance Projects Publications Team


Immigrant-Native Health Disparities Over the Life Course in the European Context

Silvia Loi, Mikko Myrskylä, Anna Oksuzyan, Peng Li, Pekka Martikainen (MPIDR / University of Helsinki, Finland)

Detailed Description

It is as important as ever in a world where migrant flows are at all-time highs to analyze health differences between migrants and natives, and between different types of migrant groups. The research literature on migrant health shows that patterns vary across countries and by ethnic groupings. The data analyzed suggest that migrants are positively selected in terms of health, but exposures to undocumented status, poverty, social exclusion, adverse life events and assimilation to negative health behaviors in the host countries likely lead to deterioration in health as immigrants age in the receiving countries. How does the health of immigrants differ from that of natives? How does the health gap between immigrants and natives change over age, over time, and across generations? These are core questions addressed in this project.

We focus on how assimilation, socioeconomic conditions, adverse life events, and structural factors, such as gender and education, influence these dynamics. We look at the European context, particularly focusing on Germany and the Nordic countries.

These are our key results: We have found evidence that migrants have better health than natives but that this advantage disappears over time and as immigrants age in the receiving countries. This is particularly evident for migrants from low-income countries, for those who have lower education, and for those who experience social exclusion and/or adverse events during the life course.

Research Keywords:

Aging, Mortality and Longevity, Health Care, Public Health, Medicine, and Epidemiology, Life Course, Migration

Region keywords:

Finland, Italy, USA


Loi, S.; Li, P.; Myrskylä, M.:
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2023-005. (2023)    
Oksuzyan, A.; Drefahl, S.; Caputo, J.; Aradhya, S.:
European Journal of Population 39:8, 1–26. (2023)
Loi, S.; Li, P.; Myrskylä, M.:
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2022-018. (2022)    
Väisänen, H.; Remes, H. M.; Martikainen, P.:
SSM-Population Health 20:101298, 1–11. (2022)    
Caputo, J.; Li, P.; Kühn, M.; Brønnum-Hansen, H.; Oksuzyan, A.:
Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 76:10, 2155–2168. (2021)    
Loi, S.; Pitkänen, J.; Moustgaard, H.; Myrskylä, M.; Martikainen, P.:
Demography 58:5, 1655–1685. (2021)    
Östergren, O.; Korhonen, K.; Gustafsson, N.; Martikainen, P.:
European Journal of Public Health 31:2, 321–325. (2021)    
Eibich, P.; Liu, C.:
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2020-012. (2020)    
Oksuzyan, A.; Drefahl, S.; Caputo, J.; Aradhya, S.:
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2020-026. (2020)    
Hamilton, E. R.; Patler, C. C.; Hale, J. M.:
Sociology Compass 13:6, e12695–e12695. (2019)    
Loi, S.; Hale, J. M.:
Demographic Research 40:32, 933–962. (2019)    
Loi, S.; Pitkänen, J.; Moustgaard, H.; Myrskylä, M.; Martikainen, P.:
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2019-009. (2019)    
Haukka, J.; Suvisaari, J.; Sarvimäki, M.; Martikainen, P.:
Epidemiology 28:4, 587–593. (2017)
Nguyen, E. T.; Hale, J. M.:
International Migration 55:5, 44–61. (2017)    
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.