Life Expectancy among U.S.-Born and Foreign-Born Older Adults: Estimates from Social Security and Medicare Enrollment Data

Neil Mehta, Emory University
Irma T. Elo, University of Pennsylvania
Michal Engelman, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Diane S. Lauderdale, University of Chicago
Bert Kestenbaum, U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA)

America’s foreign-born are becoming increasingly diverse, yet little is known about how life expectancy varies by birth region. We used linked Social Security and Medicare records to examine life expectancy at age 65 (e65) for several foreign-born groups and for native-born Americans in 2000-2009. At age 65, the foreign born had a 2.4 year advantage over the U.S. born for both sexes. Asian-born immigrants had generally the highest longevity, while those born in Europe and Canada had the lowest. Timing of U.S. entry was associated with e65 in a monotonic fashion, with those entering since 1990 enjoying the highest longevity. Next steps will be to: (1) analyze census data to understand the role of socioeconomic and other variables, (2) compare e65 among the immigrants with e65 in their sending region to better understand health selection, and (3) calculate the contribution of the foreign born to U.S. e65 during this period.

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Presented in Session 136: Health Disparities among U.S. Hispanic and Immigrant Populations