Investigating Health Selection Within Mexico and Across the US Border

Christina J. Diaz, Liwen Zeng, Ana P. Martinez-Donate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Despite acquiring lower levels of attainment and earnings, Mexican immigrants exhibit favorable health outcomes relative to their native-born counterparts. And while scholars attempt to reconcile this so-called paradoxical relationship with a variety of theoretical and empirical approaches, patterns of selective migration continue to receive considerable attention. The present study contributes to the literature on health selection by extending the healthy migrant hypothesis in a number of ways. First, we rely on a unique combination of datasets to assess whether the healthy are disproportionately more likely to migrate. We use the latest wave of the Mexican Family Life Survey and the 2013 Migrante Study, a survey that is representative of Mexican-born persons who are actively migrating through Tijuana. Pooling these data also allow us to differentiate between internal and US-bound migrants to shed light on their respective health profiles. Results provide modest support for the healthy migrant hypothesis. Although those who report better overall health are more likely to migrate, we find that the presence of certain chronic conditions increases migration risk. Our findings also suggest that internal migrants are healthier than those traveling to the US, though this is largely because those moving within Mexico reflect a younger and more educated population. This study takes an important step in uncovering variation across migrant flows and highlights the importance of the timing at which health is measured in the migration process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-204
Number of pages24
JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Health selection
  • Healthy migrant hypothesis
  • Internal migration
  • Mexico

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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