Foreign-born Latinos in New Jersey are healthier, have fewer vices and live longer than Hispanics born in the U.S. – mirroring a national trend, according to a recent report.
The report, released by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, found that foreign-born residents of New Jersey are primarily healthier than native-born residents, and also have healthier lifestyles.
About 20 percent of New Jersey residents are foreign immigrants, and, of those 20 percent, approximately 36 percent are Hispanic, the report says.
The large proportion of foreign-born Latino residents were found to have lower mortality rates than U.S.-born Hispanics for most leading causes of death including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic respiratory disease and pneumonia.
“This pattern reflects both selective in-migration, since the foreign-born who now live in the U.S. are thought to be healthier on average than those who do not move here, and also potentially selective out-migration, as the foreign-born who develop health problems may return to their country of origin for care and support,” the report stated.
Joel Cantor, a professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Public Planning and Policy at Rutgers University and the Director of the Center for State Health Policy, said he agreed healthier people are more likely to migrate.
“People come here to work. And to work, you must be healthy,” Cantor told Fox News Latino.
But, Cantor said, when they get sick they tend to return home for health care.
“For some people who come here, if they develop illnesses that require a lot of care, they may go back home where they have more support from family and access to health services,” he said.
Although the report centered on Jersey, the state has the third largest percentage of foreign-born residents in the country, and the findings of this study are consistent with other studies of foreign-born populations.
“It’s definitely a national phenomenon,” Cantor said. “It’s not specific to New Jersey.”
The study also found that foreign-born Latinos had more favorable health behaviors than U.S.-born Hispanics, including lower prevalence of obesity, smoking, binge drinking, and drug use.
“Several types of cultural effects, including lifestyle behaviors, may have protective health benefits for the foreign-born,” the report says.
The study also analyzed how the length of stay in the United States affects the health outcomes of foreign-born residents, including foreign-born Hispanics.
There is a discrepancy, however, in health outcomes and behavior between those foreign-born residents who have been in the United States less than 10 years versus those who have been here 10-14 years, the study says.
Foreign-born residents who have lived in the United States for more than a decade are more likely to adopt risky health behaviors such as smoking and binge drinking, the report says.
Cantor believes adapting to the American way of life, such as engaging in less physical activity and consuming more fast-food, may be one of the reasons for the decline in health.