How Does Geographic Distance Affect the Magnitude of the “Migrant Mortality Advantage”?

Hill Kulu, University of St Andrews
Rachel Stuchbury, Celsius, UCL
Matthew Wallace, Ined

Background: the migrant mortality advantage (empirically observed low mortality among migrants relative to the host population) is one of the most pervasive findings in the social science literature. Despite the frequency with which it is observed, factors influencing the magnitude of the advantage are not well understood. One such factor is the distance between origin and host country. A greater distance is said to increase moving costs, so people with more unobserved human capital, and better health, should be over-represented among those who move further. Aims: to test this assertion and observe whether the size of the advantage increases with greater distance between the origin and host country. Data and Methods: we use unlinked, national-level mortality and population count data provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). We fit Poisson regressions which adjust country of birth (with England and Wales-born as the ref) and age (20-24 up to 85+ with age 80 as the ref), and stratify by sex. The subsequent mortality ratios are then plotted against the distance of the country of origin from England and Wales. We display the linear regression line and R-value (with its P-value) to identify the strength and direction of the relationship. Results: we observe a moderate linear relationship between the magnitude of the migrant mortality advantage and the distance of the origin country from England and Wales, significant to p<0.05. In short, the further the country of origin is from England and Wales, the larger the advantage tends to be. Future work: we will access a linked individual-level data set which will allow us to further examine this interesting relationship at different time points using different approaches, taking into consideration factors such as duration of stay and age at arrival and other measures of distance (e.g. socioeconomic).

Presented in Session 18: Health, Morbidity, and Mortality Among International Migrants

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